…On Perfectionism: Two Perfect Traps

Perfectionism is either directed at yourself,directed at others,or both. The former- inwardly focused perfectionism occurs when some people become too hard on themselves,pushing relentlessly to achieve unrealistic goals. They don’t dare make mistakes. Failure is a reflection of their worth. They see failure as proof of incompetence.Letting go and being easier on themselves is difficult because they internalize failure. Self- oriented perfectionism is a form of self- rejection

Perfectionists can also impose ultra- high standards on others. When this happens,relationships often suffer because it seems like other people are always letting them down. Wanting others to do their best is one thing but expecting perfection is setting them up to fail.

Binocular Vision

When you look through binoculars,everything is magnified. Perfectionist magnify their imperfections and perceived flaws. They focus on one negative piece of feedback,ignoring thirty that are positive. When you minimize the positives,it’s like looking through binoculars the wrong way. The positives are so far away they appear insignificant.

Debbie did an incredible job for her company bringing in the biggest sale of the year. Everyone congratulated her, but all Debbie could think about was one error- forgetting to mention the new,improved warranty.Her persistence,the magnitude of her accomplishment and her well- deserved recognition were ignored even though her error didn’t affect the outcome. In her mind,it just wasn’t good enough.

Perfect illusions

Perfectionism is rampant today. No wonder so many career-driven people are unhappy. On the outside,they appear to have it all- success,great lifestyle,fabulous looks. However,on the inside,it’s a different story. In many cases,they feel desperate,frustrated and unhappy. Peace of mind and a sense of satisfaction elude them. Striving to be perfect all the time is exhausting. Barbara Streisand,a well- known perfectionist,says, “Demanding perfection is a cold way to live. Imperfection has humanity in it.” If you have fallen prey to this trap,cut yourself- and those you love some slack. Being perfect is an illusion.

Mellissa was always impeccably dressed and groomed. Every morning she walked into the office looking like a fashion model. Her workmates bristled with envy. How did she do it? She had three little ones at home all under the age of nine,and still managed to look great.One friday,at an important management meeting,Melissa was presenting at the front of the boardroom. When she turned around to demonstrate her Powerpoint slides,everyone focused on the red velcro roller embedded in her hair. We all loved Mellissa a lottle more that day.

Perfectionism dishonors us. The sad fact is that as a perfectionist,we may be controlling our feelings of inadequacy, but we are no joy to be with. Think about someone you know like Mellissa who never has a hair out of place, does everything well and thinks she is always right. How do you feel being around this person? Exactly! It’s not a lot of fun.

A good question to ask a perfectionist is, “How is it working for you?” If perfectionism was classified as an emotional disorder, I believe more people would seek the help they need to free themselves from it’s destructive grasp.

Striving for excellence feels wonderful because you are trying your very best. Perfectionsim feels terrible because your work is somehow never quite good enough- Omobola Stephen

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