Do you have days where you just don’t feel like you are ‘good enough’? It doesn’t matter what it pertains to—maybe you missed a typo on a critical report, or didn’t quite make a deadline, or forgot to refill the water in the coffeepot. Big or small, these things tend to weigh us down.
If you are trying to achieve perfection, you will always be unhappy because no one can be perfect a hundred percent of the time. But that’s a good thing.
It’s hard when we are
blasted with perfection all the time
If you watch TV or use any kind of social media, you probably see perfect faces all the time. But these men and women are graced with more than good looks and DNA, they have technology to make them look flawless. No one can compete with the smooth, unblemished perfection of photo manipulation. Perfect looks, perfect work performance, perfect home life. These things don’t exist for real people.
Moderate perfectionism is typically associated with success, but when it becomes elevated, it delves into the realm of psychiatric disorders. Perfectionists are at higher risk of eating disorders, depression, and anxiety disorders.
Perfectionism has even been associated with early death. There is hope, however, as researchers have shown that cognitive behaviour therapy can lead to a decrease in perfectionism and the associated symptoms (Kothari, 2016).
But I’m not that bad, it’s just some things
You may scoff and protest that you aren’t THAT bad. Just because every paperclip is lined up neatly doesn’t mean you are a perfectionist, right? While it can manifest in many ways, the perfectionist mentally can slowly creep up on you. It may start with a perfect row of paperclips and snowball from there, leaving you at risk for eating disorders, anxiety, and premature death.
We cannot ever achieve the perfection we seek
It’s part of what makes us human. The flaws and imperfections make us each unique, and beautiful. You have so much to offer, and it won’t matter in a year if your hair wasn’t perfect or if the font wasn’t just right.
“Have no fear of perfection—you’ll never reach it.”
While most people aren’t full-blown perfectionists, it’s hard to find someone that doesn’t seek perfection for some aspect of their lives. You have to confront these behaviours.
Yes, it’s important to do a good job and to try your best, but you have to be realistic. Retrain your brain to focus on the positive, and stop nit-picking and looking for things that aren’t exactly how you want them to be.
Learn to recognise the difference between wanting to improve yourself and striving for perfection. You’ll be a lot happier and maybe even live a little longer.
Kothari, R., Egan, S., Wade, T., Andersson, G., & Shafran, R. (2016). Overcoming Perfectionism: Protocol of a Randomized Controlled Trial of an Internet-Based Guided Self-Help Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Intervention. JMIR Research Protocols, 5(4), e215. http://doi.org/10.2196/resprot.637