I don’t want to be perfect. I just want to live and enjoy this life, and the constant pursuit of perfection can destroy this joy in the bud.
Well I know something about this…
For as long as I can remember, everything I did, I did 110%, and achieving 90% of my goal was a failure for me. Sometimes very sick. There was no place for the word “good” in my life. It always had to be the best, beyond expectations (especially mine).
- I absolutely wanted to lose weight
- Study perfectly (both at school and in college)
- I was perfectly fine on my own.
- I had every day perfectly planned, sometimes every minute.
Perfect according to others, but not for me. It could always be better, right? Every compliment like: I admire you for your organization, I envy you having goals to achieve … I denied it. I didn’t take the compliments personally.
When things didn’t turn out the way I had envisioned, I was very frustrated. This frustration showed itself in different ways. Of course, I didn’t give up right away. I devoted more time to it, stayed up at night, stopped having time for myself – for pleasures, relaxation, and sometimes even for food. I forgot what “I want” means. Instead of that “I have to” dominated every sentence. I have to do this, I have to do that… I have to read a book, I have to go for a run, I have to meet a friend.
Do you see it? Things that “should” give me pleasure, be relaxation, turned into duties … due to lack of time. Even a meeting with friends was under the slogan “I have to”. The only thing I wanted was to do everything perfectly… or maybe I had to?
Everything else was always more important than me. From what I really need, not what I “want” because it is appropriate or because someone asked.
I finally understood a very important thing. Too bad it’s so late, good thing it’s soon enough. I didn’t have time to please everyone. In turn, I was never able to please myself, because I never had time for what is really important. Wanting to do everything and for everyone, I didn’t have time to stop and think about what I need. What do I want from life, in which direction to develop. Because not all of them can.
Striving for constant perfection has taught me a lot, I can’t help but admit it. I gained a lot, but I don’t know if I haven’t lost even more. Many challenges pass by next to me because I was afraid that I would not be able to cope (perfectly). I abandoned ideas that could give me joy and fun, because I wasn’t sure if I would do them 110%. More often I ran away because I was afraid of taking risks. I felt that this risk could be deadly for me, that there was no room for such things in my mind anymore.
Why am I writing about this? Because some time ago I realized it and started doing something about it. I thought there might be more like me. People who strive for perfection in every possible field. Maybe thanks to this someone will turn on the light early enough and not lose much.
It was very difficult for me to write this. I am still correcting this text, adding, deleting, fighting with my thoughts whether I really want to publish it, because it is a really intimate text. The fact that I’m not perfect, and that I don’t want to be perfect and perfect in 110% is also not a reason to be ashamed. For me, this is a form of public confession, a public release of what is inside me. And on the occasion of publicly acknowledging my purpose, so that I can’t back down. And the goal is simple: not to demand perfection from yourself and others.
Of course, I don’t want to give up education, self-improvement, continuous improvement, but I want (I don’t have to) set my priorities. Break goals down into smaller steps and find time to relax, do nothing, take a breather.
It’s best to start with small steps:
- I try to turn off the computer at the right time and read a book
- I try to stop from time to time and ask myself: what do I want at this moment, what do I want to do
- I’m trying and I’m doing quite well (after all, striving for perfection is useful for something)
Now let’s move on to the general information about perfectionists.
Perfectionist – who is he?
A perfectionist is a person who obsessively strives to ensure that the goals they set are achieved in the best possible way and without any error.
Only the person who does nothing is not wrong – a lot of people will agree with this sentence. Certainly, no perfectionist is of the same opinion. For people with a clearly noticeable trait of perfectionism, there are simply no half-measures. All tasks undertaken by them must be performed fully correctly.
Anyone can be a perfectionist – an elderly person, a young adult or even a child.
What is perfectionism?
Perfectionism can be defined as a tendency to set unrealistically high standards of functioning for oneself (and/or others). It’s an impossible need to be perfect.
Perfectionism can affect many areas of life, but it is often related to work. If you tend to be perfect, you will believe that you can always do better. Create a better presentation, read even more, better prepare your speech, refine the text or graphics – it practically never ends. We explain it with conscientiousness, diligence and commitment, but very often these are milder terms of perfectionism.
There are also perfectionists who place particularly high demands on others: family, work colleagues, friends, acquaintances. They criticize them for every imperfection. They are never satisfied with what they say, do, how they work, how they look.
This makes such people often lonely, because they are unable to establish deep relationships with people. In close relationships, we need to feel comfortable and safe with our weaknesses. With a perfectionist, this is extremely difficult.
Where does perfectionism come from?
Perfectionism has its roots in childhood. Through contact with parents, teachers, other important people, we learn how to behave, what is important. If as a child you had high standards, you were punished for making mistakes, and rewarded only for very good grades, presentation or behavior, there is a high probability that you took over such high standards as your own and strive for them. It’s not enough for you to have a good grade, you have to have the best grade, and ideally, be the best student in school. The ideal employee, wife, mother, etc.
What are the effects of perfectionism?
If you’re a perfectionist, you’re probably very tired, because doing everything 200% takes a lot of effort.You often feel frustrated, angry, especially if something is not done right or things are not going your way.You feel a great fear of failure, which makes you give up many things that come your way. And when you make a mistake, you flood yourself with a wave of criticism and worry that you are useless. You rarely feel joy, you rest little, you don’t know what relaxation is. Often there may be physical problems such as insomnia, frequent illnesses, ailments resulting from excessive stress and constant tension.
If you feel that perfectionism affects you and you are starting to feel its negative effects, it’s time to change and get out of this vicious circle of high standards and lifeless ideals.
How to deal with perfectionism?
1. Notice your inner critic
For a week, write down all critical thoughts that appear in a given area of your life, e.g. work, family, relationships with people. When you write down such a critical thought, try to find counterarguments that prove it untrue
e.g.: “I’m a bad manager” (implicitly, because I made a mistake in planning) – “I’m a very good manager, I made a mistake in planning, but I made a correction and the matter is settled. Everyone makes mistakes and I do my job very well and my co-workers are very happy and value me.”
Just accept the fact that you are human and that humans make mistakes (and learn from them), need to rest, regenerate and have fun. Accept the fact that we all judge and are judged, ashamed and guilty. Make friends with your weaknesses instead of fighting them.
3. Let go and Refuse
Start setting boundaries for yourself and others. Don’t check your work more than once. Start deliberately not meeting your high standards, e.g. leave the house, leaving something you usually clean untidy. Take conscious breaks from work, drink tea or coffee calmly, go outside, get some fresh air, listen to music, stretch.
If you want to know if you are a perfectionist person make a test:
Coming out of perfectionism requires systematic, conscious actions, but it is worth taking. When we are on the path of perfectionism, we see life in black and white. When we let go of being perfect, life takes on flavors and colors. We have more energy and joy. The body can rest. Our relationships with people improve. So it’s worth loosening the collar and getting out of the armor of perfectionism.
And just at the end, a short request: stop sometimes and listen to what you really want, because it is impossible to drown it out all the time.