Are you a perfectionist? Do you demand it from other people? or only yourself? I want to discuss this in the way of cause and affect. This is not a discussion of religion or a quest for spiritual perfection.
A simple dictionary definition: Perfectionism: a refusal to accept any standard short of perfection or perceived ideal.
The thing is, the notion of something being ideal or perfect is different for everyone. The affliction of perfectionism in any form can and will cause anxiety, stress and a life full of never having quite succeeded.
“Perfectionism is a risk factor for obsessive compulsive disorder, obsessive compulsive personality disorder, eating disorders, social anxiety, social phobia, body dysmorphic disorder, workaholism, self harm, substance abuse, and clinical depression as well as physical problems like chronic stress, and heart disease.” Wikipedia
How sad is that? Let’s look at what I I call the TEN E’s of Perfectionism.
What does “perfect” mean to you? Is it the ultimate and only thing you expect not only of yourself but others? Either way it’s not healthy and will not only make you mentally sick, it can cause physical ailments for yourself and others.
Expectation–from yourself or others–sets you up for failure and disappointment.
Having any expectation of having to be “perfect” means you’ll always fall short of the mark because you can’t reach high enough–just a little bit more…just a little bit better…just a little bit longer… It never stops.
Sometimes it’s others who expect the perfection from you. They want to force you into a box that doesn’t fit. This will leave you feeling less than desirable, judged, and unworthy.
As per Wikipedia, the practice of perfectionism is unhealthy and can lead to many disorders.
A feeling of exasperation is a like that constant feeling of annoyance and irritation. Do you experience that with other people?
Your patience wears thin and you roll your eyes at someone’s attempt to complete a task that they aren’t doing to your expectations. Ugh.
This type of feeling is common for the perfectionist. Imagine the toll it takes on all those tiny blood vessels, psyche, and stress levels. Not good.
This is an affect of perfectionism and what I mean here is the eradication of relationships, self esteem, and life itself.
You can try to eradicate ‘imperfection’ but it won’t work. It’ll always creep in.
If your expectations–for yourself or others–are unobtainable then things will eventually fall apart. You can not sustain a life of perfection because there’s no such thing.
You’ll need to change things up constantly or the solid foot hold on life will begin to erode.
People won’t want to be around you. You may not want to be around you–that’s a scary thought isn’t it.
This is both cause and affect.
Why are you a perfectionist? Where did the behavior come from? Was it modeled for you as a child? Have you been this way as long as you remember or was there a trigger?
Environment has such an enormous impact on our lives. Where we live, who we live with, what is happening not just in the home but the community–it’s all linked.
Have you seen the movie The Devil Wears Prada? Great movie. The “devil” portrayed by Meryl Streep is a character who has set up a work environment that is toxic with the need for detailed perfectionism.
Look around you. Are there triggers that get you going down the perfectionist road? Maybe the lack of control over life or decisions? These are probably great questions to discuss with a professional therapist or counsellor.
Your environment–then and now–both add to the cause and affect. Sit down and think about that.
This is an affect of trying to be perfect. Being irritable and bitchy can become the norm. You may feel like you’re the only one doing anything correctly–or to your expectations.
If you experience a sense of edginess prior to entering a situation because you don’t feel perfect enough then that will carry on and grow to things like full blown anxiety etc.
That’s not a fun way to live.
EXPLOSIVE and EXCELLENCE
I’ve put these two together because they so often go hand in hand.
Any perfectionist will tell you their quest for excellent is all consuming. It never really stops. It could be in your job, your physical being, or anything you can control. That need for excellence can lead to the explosive behavior simply due to falling short of expectation.
Do you have an explosive personality or temper?
Do you lose it when you believe you could have done better? or others could/should have done better?
Sometimes you just lose it. It can be very exhausting to keep everything together all the time. The energy it takes to keep fighting towards constant excellence is draining and an explosion will come sooner or later. (and perhaps for some it won’t be the expected explosion but an implosion–both are equally frightening and destructive.)
Some people who are perfectionists do it for recognition from others–it’s like the look at me–look at me–type of attention seeking behavior– These would be the ones who embellish their own stories, their own accomplishments, and claim all victories as their own.
Perhaps they’re perfectionists only in their own mind?
This type of behavior is disturbing and if it sounds like you then you may want to seek help. To embellish basically means to lie or pump yourself up in other peoples eyes. Some are great talkers and others have their own rules of engagement.
Trust me when I say that no one likes to be around someone who embellishes too much. It’s tiresome and exhausting.
Some people who strive for the perfect “everything”, are also looking for a sense of control over their own environment or world.
The act of doing things to a point of un-acquirable self satisfaction could mean other life issues are being avoided.
The individual may escape to their perfectionist ways as a way of coping.
As a writer I had to let go of the perfectionist in me a long time ago. For me it usually came out in my need to have the perfect word, sentence, or finished product. I’d drive myself crazy by doing it over and over and over. What I realized I was doing was escaping back into the same work all the time and not moving forward in any way.
Once I gave myself permission to make mistakes and be human, it made all the difference in the world. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to write this and omg I never would have published it.
I am human. People will judge whether there are errors or not. It doesn’t matter anymore.
When I think of someone constantly trying to be perfect, it exhausts me. The constant drive to go, go, go is hyper-vigilance to the n-th degree.
Nothing is ever good enough or in the right place–I wouldn’t want to live that way.
If you’re living like this there is help. Contact your doctor or local mental health unit to reach out and talk to someone. The toll on the mind and body is so overwhelming and exhausting you have to do something.
The sooner you realize there is no utopia on earth–the better. Life is about compromise and acceptance. This means forgiving yourself and others for any preceived short falls. If perfectionism is leading you down a dark path of mental health please seek help. I’m an Auntie…I’m not a doctor.
Things like OCD, anorexia, and social anxiety are real and need to be dealt with. You can’t always do it alone.
In Canada you can call the wellness chat line: 1-855-242-3310 Kids can connect with the Kids help line: 1-800-668-6868
Get away from the E’s of perfection and work towards ACCEPTANCE