Why Perfectionism Sucks

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been really hard on myself. My earliest memory of this is when I confronted my fourth grade teacher for giving me an A- on a log cabin I built completely from popsicle sticks. I cried all the way home when she refused to go any higher. Sucks. It really was a good cabin…

As I’ve grown, that nine-year old perfectionist has lived within me, for better or worse, ever since. Like most women, I can be a bit of a control freak. I admit. But for the most part, it hasn’t been that bad. Being a perfectionist has made me work harder, run faster and write better. I’ve won awards athletically, scholastically and professionally. And with each new accomplishment, I’ve come to believe that I have a natural ability to succeed.

But I’m no stranger to loss and failure–which is probably why I know success. Most recently, I lost my job–and quickly thereafter, got news that I wasn’t selected for a better position that I really wanted. For the first time in my life, I had nowhere to go and nothing to do. It was terrifying.

Perfectionism is tough to maintain. Eventually, we reach a point where perfect is always a little further than it was before. And with it, so is our happiness. Though I understand and accept failure as part of human existence, I’ve always felt I could somehow control the situation to create a better outcome if I just tried hard enough. Soon, however, I realized my happiness becoming inextricably tied to life being as close to perfect as possible. I’m now discovering that a happiness dependent on perfection is not only unhealthy, but sad. And for this and other reasons, I’ve decided to make a change.

I’m challenging myself to get out of my comfort zone and to take on new challenges that my perfectionist tendencies would have otherwise prohibited. I’m giving myself permission to truly enjoy the highs and to also fully embrace the lows without guilt or shame. Sure, it might be awkward at first, but I’m ready to face my fears.

Happy is the New Perfect is dedicated entirely to this effort. I’m breaking the link between happiness and perfection so that I can live a more fulfilling and courageous life. I don’t want the fear of failing to hold me back. With each new post, I plan to share another moment of inspiration, crazy fun and genuine happiness. I would love your company.

We all have perfectionist tendencies. How do you overcome yours? Tell me about it in the comments. It’d be great to hear from you!

 

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16 thoughts on “Why Perfectionism Sucks

  1. Wow that was a good first post!!! I like your vision and I hope you stick with that. I agree with your point when you mentioned happiness being tied to perfection is sad. Well, yeah I’ve been there. It’s hard to shake that feeling because that’s the structure of the society. We are happy when we have a high-paying job, we are happy when we have a honors, we are happy when everything is within our control. You wanna know what I think? I think being open to what life hits you can be a source of happiness as well. Life is a ball of surprises and sometimes the most worthwhile memories come from losing grip on control and taking on reality.

    Good luck with your blog! Followed you, follow mine?

    • Hi Juna! I’ve already followed your blog. It’s amazing! Thank you for your follow and feedback. You are absolutely right. It’s a hard concept to grasp, but waiting for your life to be perfect so you can be happy is a recipe for disaster! Thanks, again. And best of luck to you, too! -b

  2. I dont even know where to comment. I have never tried to be perfect in anything. However, I say this, I would take that A- anyday

  3. Hey Be’Anka: I can relate to your post. I too have a streak of perfectionism. I could be very understanding to others faults but not my own. I was hard on myself and I realised that my dissatisfaction with myself was hurting those who loved me.
    I had to learn be be OK with myself. It is a tough habit to break this perfectionism.
    I look forward to future writings from you. Maybe we can help each other a bit.

    And I agree: Great first post. Great post period. 😉

    • It’s good to know I’m not the only one who struggles with this. It is a tough habit to break, but let’s not let perfectionism hold us back! Thanks for your support. 🙂

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  8. Frozen in Perfectionism. Can’t get it wrong if I don’t start. I’ll do it when I have time to do it properly. I usually get it done when the cost of not doing it is prohibitive or I simply cannot stand the situation any longer.
    Thanks for your insights into perfectionism as a cause of freezing. I know all the right things to say to others (I think) but need to take the same advice for myself.
    Keep up the good work with your blog. I am sure you will have plenty of people relating to your topic of choice.
    I think seeking approval of others and praise from others is a part of my problem. I try to achieve this by doing outstanding or amazing work and end up usually doing very little most of the time, with only occasional breakthroughs.

    • Hi Greg! Thank you so much for your comment – and for reading. Looks like we’re cut from the same cloth! Being frozen by our perfectionism is a tough thing to get over. I’m still working on it everyday. But what helps me is to constantly remind myself that my best is good enough. And then, immediately, that good enough is just that: good enough. It can be difficult to find the line between our best and perfect, but if you remember that perfection is impossible, then you’ll give up the search. It’s so relieving!! As for wanting praise, I definitely know how that can be… It’s quite the struggle! Like you, I rarely ever think I deserve praise. And I often doubt that the praise I get from others is genuine. Sound familiar?

      I’ll have to explore praise more in future blogs. Thanks for the inspiration! And best of luck to you in overcoming your perfectionism. We’re in this together! 🙂

  9. Hey Be’anka & Greg : I was made out of similar material like you two. Everything you both have said applies to me.

    You know, till date, I have read so many blogs and wanted to thank writers for putting their hearts out or for some piece of info which really helped me.. But I never commented. Why? In the search of that “perfect” comment which will get approval from all who read..
    But,now, after reading your article, I have too decided to not always listen to that “Perfect Me” once ina while.. I can really feel the “Perfect Me”s diapproval to posting this comment too – but for now, I will ignore her..

    • Hi Maitreyee! I’m so glad this piece inspired you! I remember exactly how I felt the first time I decided to comment on a blog. I wrote it, deleted it, then came back to the post and just did it. But it took me forever to hit that button! Good for you ignoring “Perfect Me”… She can be so annoying, right?! 😉 Thanks for reading, and thanks a bunch for your comment. 🙂

  10. Being a Perfectionist is a curse for me… let me try to explain.
    Since I was old enough to work I found me in a ‘new country’… not being able to even speak in a non-English culture where everything I say is wrong… not saying the right words, the conflict inside of me judging myself on every syllable that I say is a killer. I wasn’t used to this ‘new country’ of talking about ME, ME and ME that everyone seems to be doing today makes me feel I’m living in a ‘new country’, even though I was born here in the USA. I have no problem being alone because relationships (after being hurt, used and abused by people) is my greatest fear. Working for someone I always have to be coached, informed and tutored because I feel I’m always doing something wrong, giving out the wrong information with working in IT for over 25 years. Because it’s changing so often… usually every day if I’m personally not informed of changes I beat myself up inside. Mental breakdowns are common for me… usually twice in a month is the norm. The norm for me is I get hired (fake in the interview that I can do the job… selling myself) and work for a company for say 8 months to a year until the thoughts of I’m not doing enough (obviously) because I’m not getting promoted… not getting along with others… not ‘brown-nosing’ enough. I am forced to judge others who are getting promoted that sleep on the job and I’m not sleeping so what is preventing me from getting the promotions?? I have been hauled into rooms with more than 1 manager who stare at me saying I’m not doing enough on my job (Controlling me). Humiliating me almost to the point of suicide. I have PTSD now due to many decades of working in the work place. Managers controlling me, scaring me if I don’t work harder then I’m laid off or fired which has happened too many times before. Too many terrible experiences of being fired go off in my head over and over and over again, never ending loop and keeps repeating to lower my self confidence… agreeing that I can’t do anything right anymore. I stay away from people, groups and even friends now because of hounding myself of not saying the right thing to them. I’m pretty screwed up now and I have the ‘Work-force’ of working in America to thank for that. The so many rights and priveledges that company’s are armed with that protect them from people yet as a working person in America we have no rights at all. After I was diagnosed with PTSD and other disabilities I have since a car accident in ’83 where I’m not as quick as others I brought it to the HR of my last job I worked for to let them now to see what can be done to help me… the new manager stabbed me with the words to help them get gain… HR is only for protecting the company’s and doesn’t help the employees one bit because they wouldn’t accommodate me with anything. So I was forced to quit… later I was informed from the benefits team after I quit that this same manager found a hole in how I left which was better for the company who edited my dismissal with the company and put down that I was Fired! Again, to help the company (on paper) look better. It’s all about MONEY isn’t it… not about being human anymore. I can’t get on disability because they say I can work physically… they don’t care about mental health… only physical so I have no option now. It’s all due to being a perfectionist like my Dad who has passed on. I don’t trust anyone anymore because it is all about whats in it for them and how they can get gain on someone… has nothing to do with helping… serving… sacrificing your time to help others. It tried going to Psychologists who diagnosed me with even more acronyms to add to my imperfect brain and they tried to throw drugs at me and refused to write a letter to help my work know and understand me over a year ago… I had to write a complaint letter to the BBB in order for them to send me the letter that was promised from them my final day seeing them… they only wanted to be paid was all and refused to help me… the letter they sent was dated a year later as though I had just left seeing them… A very corrupt and deceit world we live in and I want no part of it. Seems like all the good jobs out there are the ones that people keep and retire from… there are no ‘good jobs’ anymore. Society is all about whats in it for ME! People don’t know what it’s like to help someone and to love them despite their weaknesses. I can’t live like that… to forget about others needs… not to help them but be selfish because caring about others is NOT what they teach in college… it’s all about how to sell to get gain and profit off of people. I can’t live like this anymore, Later.

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