Let me begin by saying that my inspiration to write about this topic is that I am seeing a trend — and so is Google. The issue of being a perfectionist, and even the language has gone up DRAMATICALLY, look:
It is no surprise, then, that we have begun to take this trait on, and incorporate this thinking into our lifestyle. Plus, given the rise of Social Media, we see images of perfection on a second to second basis. Google Trends shows the interest in the topic has doubled since 2004, alone.
Are We All Perfectionists, in Some Way?
I would venture to say that most people have particular things that they are perfectionists about. Whether it is the table setting, car cleanliness, or making your bed “just so”, there are certain things that we enjoy doing, AND we enjoy the results. This is a natural form of perfectionism, and a healthy version. It helps us to set goals, accomplish them, and feel good about our results.
Psychologist Hamachek called this “Normal Perfectionism”.
The flip-side of this (the disease I’ve referred to at the top) is considered “Neurotic Perfectionism”.
“Normal perfectionists pursue perfection without compromising their self-esteem, and derive pleasure from their efforts. Neurotic perfectionists strive for unrealistic goals and consistently feel dissatisfied when they cannot reach them.” – Wiki
One of the things I would alter from the neurotic definition is “unrealistic timelines for goals”. Personally, I believe in setting ridiculous goals and have pursued and achieved them. However, from experience, I can surely say that by easing up the timeline and terms will almost always reduce the stress and produce positive results. (Sorry, soapbox).
BUT, let’s get back to the point:
There is a Fine Line Between Normal and Neurotic.
If you are on this site, it is because you believe in setting goals and self improvement. Both of which are extremely helpful and amazingly functional. And, as long as you can stick to the first definition and feel good about your efforts, you are doing just fine.
Perfectionism becomes a problem at the point that we begin to feel distressed, defeated, and depressed. Our Super-Evil-Self-Talk starts to say things like:
This isn’t good enough.
I’ll never finish.
I don’t even know why I bother to try.
However, all of this can be avoided by one little tip:
Give Yourself a Break.
While you may have high expectations for those around you, you do not expect perfection from them. You allow mistakes from others, so why not start to allow them for yourself? Try to get the negative voices out of your head by countering them with some positive ones. You can answer them back, too, with your Super-Awesome-Self-Hero voice:
This is the best I can do right now.
It’s good enough to call it done.
I can leave this for a moment when I have more time.
Wow! I’m almost done!!
Wait. I’m done.