In the language of psychology, perfectionism is defined as a belief that perfection should be endeavor for, meaning that we should always keep on improving ourselves by sharpening our skills on time to time basis. Pathologically perfectionism is an unhealthy belief indicating ‘less than perfect is unacceptable’. Perfectionism helps people drive for accomplishment and motivates them to face discouragements and barrier to success. Interestingly it is observed that adaptive perfectionists end up in low levels of procrastination when compared to non-perfectionists. Perfectionism can be very damaging when it comes to pathological form, as it results in low productivity and lose of energy and time. The individual is seen spending more time on irrelevant details resulting in procrastination.
Perfectionism is often observed starting in childhood where parents and teachers encourage children to become high-achievers often seen by giving gold stars showing being the best. In long term this results in pleasing others by performing high. This pattern often results in frustration and self-doubt. In The Artist’s Way, author Julia Cameron writes: “Perfectionism is a refusal to let yourself move ahead. It is a loop — an obsessive, debilitating closed system that causes you to get stuck in the details of what you are writing or painting or making and to lose sight of the whole.” So the question arises what’s the solution then. The simple solution is to get yourself out from the competition while making up some rules, for example I need to perform the best in order to satisfy myself.
Perfectionism is often related to workaholism, a non-chemical addiction as well. Such people are seen to be highly judgmental and are seen to be very critical towards others. Such phenomenon is called a defense mechanism in psychology where a perfectionist rejects what they can’t see in themselves. Interestingly if in any case such people start easing up towards others they see it as being easy on themselves. Such people are seen to be through a very tough time when it comes to opening up to others. It becomes really difficult for them to share their internal feelings and thus they show up to be strong and hide their emotions and honest feelings. It reaches up to the stage that even with the closest one they are unable to share any scantiness, fears or disappointments.
Perfectionists need to go through a reality check multiple times a day where they need to focus whether what they are expecting from themselves is in fact achievable or not. In short they need to make out between realistic expectations and unrealistic expectations. Showing up weaknesses by perfectionists often results as being counter intuitive but if made functional can help you get guaranteed good results. Show up your real self to the world. This should be combined with doing mistakes and learning from them. We all look up to success but mistakes teach us some really valuable lessons that cannot be learned otherwise. So never let self-disgust, humiliation and embarrassment be part of your life which perfectionists often do. A very interesting pattern seen in perfectionists that they work opposite to what we say ‘There is no need to cry over split milk’ means perfectionists always cry over split milk and they take everything personally resulting in taking every criticism as negative and making themselves believe that they are not good enough. Perfectionists are also seen to defend themselves even in situations where it’s not required and are seen enjoying the failures of others. They find relief in this when they think of their own failures but unfortunately its only short term. In long term it only results in competitive and judgmental thinking. The need is to be yourself, showing your true self to the world and giving yourself a margin of being human, where we all do mistakes and are not perfect.
In a nutshell as said by Anne Lamott ‘I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you , and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.’