posted 9 Nov 2010, 09:17 by Sam Mbale
There is a Russian proverb that declares, "Perfectionism is
the enemy of good enough."
What is perfectionism? It is:
* The irrational belief that you and maybe even your
environment must be perfect.
* The striving to be the best, to reach the ideal, and to
never make a mistake.
* The belief that whatever you attempt in life must be done
letter perfect with no deviation, mistakes, slip-ups or
* A habit developed from youth that keeps you constantly
alert to the imperfections, failings, and weakness in
yourself and others.
* The underlying motive present in the fear of failure and
fear of rejection.
* A reason why you may be fearful of success, i.e., if I
achieve my goal, will I be able to continue, maintain that
level of achievement.
* The belief that no matter what you do it is never "good
enough" to meet your own or others' expectations.
It sounds similar to obsessive compulsive behavior, but for
some reason perfectionism has a more acceptable connotation.
However, even though doing your best in work and
relationships is a desirable trait, perfectionism (also
known as fastidiousness) can steal your life. It keeps you
from being able to enjoy your free time, or even having any
free time! It pushes you to the point of exhaustion and
alienates you from your family and others.
Some perfectionists have fought this battle their entire
lives, never learning to accept a lesser-quality production
in order for something better: time for having fun and
Some negative consequences of perfectionism are exhibited in
the following consequences: Low self-esteem; guilt or
feelings of shame and self-recrimination; pessimism, leading
to discouragement and feeling disheartened about future
efforts to reach goals; depression; rigidity - an extreme
case of being inflexible, non-spontaneous, and rigid;
obsessiveness; and even a lack of motivation. Believing
that the goal to change will never be ideally or perfectly
achieved can often give a perfectionist a lack of motivation
to attempt change in the first place.
If perfectionism is causing a problem in your life, it might
be a good idea to challenge yourself to dare to be average at
some things. That can be a painful thought, but if you allow
yourself to not do everything in an exceptional way, it just
might free you up to be better at the things you love.
To overcome perfectionism a person needs to:
* Be willing to forgive yourself for mistakes or failings.
* Accept that the ideal is only a guideline or goal to be
worked toward, not to be achieved 100 percent.
* Develop a sense of patience and to reduce the need to "get
it done yesterday".
* Be easier on yourself; setting unrealistic or unreasonable
goals or deadlines sets you up for failure.
* Recognize that your backsliding does not mean the end of
the world; it is OK to pick oneself up and start all over
* Learn to accept yourself the way you are; let go of the
ideas of how you should be.
* To eliminate unrealistic expectations and the idea that
you are infallible.
* Be flexible in setting goals and be willing to reassess
your plan from time to time to keep things realistic.
* Be open to the idea that you will be successful in your
efforts to change, even if you are not "first," "the best,"
"the model," "the star pupil," or "the finest".
* Realize that the important thing is to be going in a
Once you have recognized that no change can be achieved 100
percent of the time, you'll be able to work on each behavior
as needed. Hopefully, the flexibility you allow yourself will
lead to more peace and greater joy in your life.
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