“Perfectionism: a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high performance standards, accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.” ⁓Wikipedia
I am addicted to the pursuit of perfectionism. I have an internal program that tells me I should be. I diligently seek it to validate the image of who I want to be—the perfect homemaker, spouse, mother, grandmother, friend. It comes out in full force when I am in the throes of a creative process such as writing and painting.
Perfectionism creates an impossible world and the results rarely match the goal. My journey to the Himalayas was proof of that. It was as if the Universe was both testing and laughing at me, determined to obstruct more than nine months of arduous perfect planning, preparing, and packing.
In an attempt to feel better about myself I realize I am not alone. Perfectionism is rampant in our image-obsessed, achievement-driven culture. It is a self-imposed prison that destroys one’s ability to be in harmony with the flow of life. I find no consolation in knowing we perfectionist types have been around since the beginning of time.
Those of us who buy into the notion that we should constantly be doing more and achieving more believe we have failed when our efforts are anything less than exemplary. I have nothing against self-improvement, but when we don’t deprogram ourselves from perfectionism, it doesn’t matter how many improvements we make.
This is what I know for sure:
- There are no payoffs that being perfect comes with payoffs and benefits.
- It fills us with critical self-evaluations and unrealistic expectations.
- Its tight grip on our thoughts and actions cause us suffering.
- It makes us miserable on the inside and hard to live life on the outside.
- See mistakes in context and as an opportunity to learn.
- Broaden your self-definition, so when something goes wrong in one area, your whole life doesn’t come crashing down.
- It’s the leap that counts, not the landing or the results.
I’m a work in progress. There is no race to the finish line. A complete abandonment of my perfectionist personality will never happen. But as long as I strive to create balance and keep moving in the right direction, it’s enough. The quote on my refrigerator sums it up:
“You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson.