Do you demand perfection in all areas of your life, from home to work and everything in between? It seems like a noble aspiration…even one we should all possibly strive for. However, perfectionism actually makes people miserable. Perfectionistic attitudes can defeat you when you least expect it causing depression. Overcoming perfectionism can be challenging since it is generally a very deep-seated habit.
Perfectionists encounter many problems with everyday living. They usually feel they are letting down those around them (including themselves) in both personal and professional relationships. They have to understand that NOTHING is ever perfect. Life is full of uncertainty. According to Alistair Ostell, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Bradford Management Center in England, perfectionists are more susceptible to emotional and physical problems. They often show symptoms of insomnia, chronic fatigue, high blood pressure, depression and heart palpitations. These symptoms occur at a much higher rate than in those who are more flexible or open-minded.
“If there’s one thing perfectionism does, it rigidifies behavior,” author Hara Estroff Marano says in his Psychology Today article. “It constricts people just when the fast-moving world requires more flexibility and comfort with ambiguity than ever. It turns people into success slaves.”
Perfectionism, at its most extreme, can actually paralyze people when their compulsive desire to be perfect overrides reality. This leads to stress-related illnesses, relationship problems, low self-esteem, a decrease in productivity and sometimes as extreme as suicidal thoughts.
How do you know if perfectionism is paralyzing you? Do you ever think the following self-limiting beliefs? How often do the following limiting beliefs keep you from achieving your goals and dreams?
- I must rigidly control everything in my life
- People will not like me if I am not perfect
- If someone criticizes me, they must be stupid
- If I didn’t achieve a goal, I must be a failure
- It’s NOT OK to make a mistake
- I get depressed when something doesn’t come out like I planned
- If I can’t do it to my standards, I just won’t do it
“This is not to say that you shouldn’t strive to do your best. It’s just that if you force yourself to be perfect all the time you’ll never feel like you are,” Hale Dwoskin of the Sedona Method says. “The best way to release your desire for perfection is to let go of wanting to be perfect or to create perfection,” he continues. “It is also extremely helpful to allow yourself to love or accept yourself as you are. The more you love and accept yourself as you are, and the more you allow yourself to accept your performance, the happier you’ll feel, and the more likely you’ll be to produce stellar results.”
It’s helpful to note that even the 7 wonders of the world are not perfect. Let go of the feeling that you must be perfect and placing unrealistic expectations upon yourself. The reality is that even if you’re not perfect, you can still be GREAT. Overcoming Perfectionism can greatly free up your creativity and allow you to become the person you were meant to be.