I have never been able to understand perfectionism and the funny part is I have encouraged it in my life. Come to think of it, we all do at one point or another is our lives. I’d like to believe that this sense of being excellent or perfect at everything starts from when we were in school. Especially the way Indian ranking system prevails.
The inception of perfectionism can be traced back to the attitude of the grading and rank system. Being perfect in studies is a subtle way of stating that anything below 95% is not good enough. The intent of self-worth is placed solely on marks regardless of the knowledge. This easily paves way to perfectionism and competition.
Is it wrong? Not really! But it does instill a great deal of fear within those craving for perfectionism. As a result, one tends to set extremely high standards, works beyond their capacity at times to win and be perfect. As children this rarely affects the lifestyle or mental balance but if we grow up with the same kind of thought process it has a ripple effect in all the other areas of our life.
As kids, we do what we’re told. We’re not very attached to the outcome. There’s not much to lose. But as we’re promoted to the next grade the fear then starts to set in.
“What If I don’t score much?”
“What if my rank slips”
“What if I’m not elected as head girl?”
“What if mum/dad are disappointed in me?”
You see? These are fears. Even though they may not seem that intense, don’t they sound similar to the fears you have being adults?
“What if I’m not promoted?”
“What if I don’t get a good job?”
“What if my co-worker gets the bonus?”
“What if I’m not making money?”
“What if I fail?”
These fears are somehow related and similar to ones we’ve had as kids and teens growing up. They may not appear so obvious or harsh at first but when you make an attempt to understand your fear, they make a lot of sense.
Let me ask you a very important question, do you allow yourself to make mistakes? Or do you get super unhappy with yourself if you make a mistake and get extremely self-critical?
As kids we’re never really acknowledged by the mistakes we make, only for what we do right. There’s always a reward for the things we say/do right but a negative remark about the things we say/do that are not right. This conditions us to always be “perfect” as in do the right and not dare to make a mistake.
This shouldn’t be confused as an excuse from the childhood. This is an on-going pattern that needs to modify and change according to your needs.
Is it wrong to crave perfection and be perfect in everything that you do? You see as a perfectionist you tend to live between white and black, between right and wrong, but as someone who advocates progress, I’d say it’s never wrong. As long as it doesn’t disrupt your day to day life. There needs to be a simple balance according to you that should work well in sync with your mental and physical well-being.
So, ask yourself this one question – “What am I afraid of? What scares me the most?”
As someone who likes perfectionism you may find it difficult to answer but give it sometime. Give it some importance, don’t try to control the thoughts or reason with them, let them come and be honest with yourself.
The answers you receive will help you get clarity and if you wish to work on it, you’ll get some direction too.
I’d like to conclude by saying yet again that it’s okay to want to be extremely good at something you do be even the best but if this starts to create a problem in other areas of your life, you need to reshape your approach and get some clarity.
I hope this article helped to get some perspective. If a professional help could help you stay clearer and more focused consult with me and we can take it from there. Look. You deserve the best and you should aim for the best and I can help clear the things that create chaos in your life and your goals. If it seems like the something you’d like to try out, get in touch with me.
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