The Cost of Perfectionism [blog/reflection]

The Cost of Perfectionism [blog/reflection]

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By now many of us are familiar with the term perfectionism.  My quick definition is: wanting to complete actions without mistakes or the inability to complete action for fear of mistakes.  Many people tend to lean toward one or the other, but if you’re like me, you might do a little of both.  There are times when I am working on stuff and get so caught up in it being just right that I lose focus of the real purpose and get stuck on trying to make it “perfect.”  There are other times that I analyze something so much that I experience the “analysis of paralysis” and instead refrain from acting at all.  I’ve noticed this in various times throughout my life and still struggle with it at times now.  Can you relate?

Most times perfectionism stems from what we’ve learned in childhood which often includes verbal, non-verbal and visual experiences with others and core beliefs.  It’s a form, in the most simplest way, of trying to be accepted, not rejected, not judged, and perceived as good.  In all its best efforts, it can be stifling and costly. It robs you of a sense of peace, of being yourself, and allowing people to connect with the real you.  It also robs you of being free to learn from experiences that aren’t great- read: mistakes.  And as much as the benefit of perfectionism can be that things end up just the way you want them to, the cost is too great because its too difficult attempting to live into something that will never exist.

As I said before, I still struggle with it, but what has been helping, is a lot of positive self talk and prayer when I head down that road.  What has also been helping, is to see the end result of a situation and reflect back on it to notice that it didn’t turn out horrible, but more importantly, that I’m still okay as is.  I also recently learned of Byron Katie’s work, entitled, The Work, which asks questions about truth behind the beliefs and things we tell ourselves.  I want to learn more so I can incorporate that into my anti-perfectionism tool kit soon. I wish I had a quick fix, but alas, I don’t. I know it takes time and practice of recognizing thoughts, challenging those thoughts, taking risks and keep pushing ahead. By all means, if you have other tools in your anti-perfectionism tool kit, do share.

What’s been your experience with perfectionism?