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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15 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. 🙂

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