The Dangers of Perfectionism

Problems with Perfection

As I begin writing in my new journal, I am excessively cautious that my entry on the first page has to be just right. It takes me some time to make the commitment to start. I remember experiencing this when I wanted to begin my scrapbook project on my wedding photos. I bought the album, had the photos, but I couldn’t cut or paste a thing. I was paralyzed. Why? I couldn’t risk messing it up. Because it had to be perfect! No regrets! No errors!

When I make a delicious 4 course meal, I tend to focus on what improvement I should make for the next time I make this, instead of enjoying what tastes great in the moment and which recipe I’ll keep.

It also isn’t easy driving me somewhere because I love the most efficient route with the least amount of traffic. And I want the parking spot in front. Just my luck I married a man who gets lost often, makes way too many u-turns and makes me walk so far to get to where I want to go.

On average days, I’m all about being gray. I know black and white thinking is too extreme and too rigid. I need to think flexibly, consider all my options and most of all…I give myself time to know when the right time is to make my decision. It just doesn’t work to force life to give me an absolute perfect answer prematurely. It has to feel right in my gut. Like which house to buy for my family or which school is best for my child.

So I’ve learned that when I say; “I should have_______________.” “I ought to _____________.” “Why didn’t I _________?” That way of thinking inevitably will take me down the road of critical thoughts that beat myself up. Then I’ll focus on all the negative aspects because I’m too blinded by my negativity to see any strengths or successes. In Cognitive Behavioral therapy, we call that maximizing the negative thoughts and minimizing the positives. It is a sure way to trigger anxiety and depression symptoms. Perfection is unattainable. We can try to do our best. We can work hard. We can honor our best efforts. So on those really tough days I now tell myself, “It’s OK to have a C+ day today. Not every day will be an A+ day and that’s OK. My GPA will still average out to be more than good enough.

For more information, read “Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect” on….

“And a dedication towards perfection undoubtedly helps us to achieve great results. Yet, there is a hidden flip side to being perfectionists that we may not be aware of. Sure, being perfectionists and having a keen eye for details help us become excellent. However, as ironic as it might sound, perfectionism at its extreme prevents us from being our best.”

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