The quest for perfection is an endless, mindless journey for those who live in our imperfect world. "Perfect" is an unattainable goal that has become an expectation in our minds. We uphold false standards in our search for infallibility. The perfectionist lives in all of us, one way or another. It's human nature to want better. We are competitive, sensitive to mistakes and harsh towards flaws. Our short comings become our failures, our indifferences become our disadvantages and our margin for error no longer exists. But there is a difference between liking perfection, and living for perfection. How can you tell if you are a perfectionist? A perfectionist is someone who holds the underlying belief that perfection can be attained and it should be. Many people in our world today are perfectionists or have been perfectionists at some point in our lives. Personally, I’m quite the perfectionist, always setting the highest standards for myself and never expecting anything less.
When you're a perfectionist there are 9 common traits that accompany you:
1. You're sensitive to error: Often perfectionists will either dismiss and excuse their errors, argue against criticism or take the feedback as a personal issue. You are defensive toward criticism and have a fear of failure because they suggest imperfection. They believe the flaw is a reflection on themselves, a stain on their character and a chip on their ability. The mistake haunts them and the short coming slowly eats them away.
2. You are your hardest critic: Perfectionists are their own worst nightmare. They see flaws in their own master pieces - often these flaws are meaningless or irrelevant in the eyes of others - however to the perfectionist the flaw has destroyed the entire work. You would beat yourself up over the smallest thing that went wrong, to the extent of being neurotic. This however can be a huge driving force - it makes the perfectionist want better and they will work harder than most others because of their need for better.
3. Perfectionists want to be beyond "better": Perfectionist don't aim to be the best, they're not competitive in the way that they want to place first - they want to be more than that. You aim to be the best in everything you do, even if it is something that you are not interested in. A perfectionist wants perfect - and if being the best still doesn't meet that standard, first place will be meaningless. A perfectionist could win every award, have the best grades, make the most extraordinary pieces of work, and be seen as the best and they can still be unhappy with it all - simply because of the standards they've set for themselves.
4. Your time is consumed by perfection: You spend copious amount of time, right down to the last moment, to perfect something. You would rather sacrifice your well-being (such as sleep, eating time, etc) than let something be less than it can be. Your determination for perfection becomes apart of you.
5. You set absolute ideals: There is only black and white, no grey. Everything is either right or wrong. A single flaw equals failure. If it isn't perfect it isn't worth it. There is no margin for error, and there is no such thing as 'almost' or 'good enough'.
6. You worry a lot: You mull over outcomes if they did not turn out as envisioned. You wonder why it wasn’t a different outcome, and whether you could have done anything to prevent that. This causes a lot of stress and anxiety The internal pressure consumes you. "What did I do wrong? What will others think of me? Why isn't it right? What am I going to do? Why can't I do anything right?"
7. It's all for the goal: You only have the end goal in mind. If you don’t achieve the goal, it really does not matter what happens in the process. Perfection is a destination not a journey. You don't care for the process, and you don't care about what it takes. You're willing to sacrifice almost anything to reach that goal.
8. You have an all-or-nothing approach: If the situation does not allow you to achieve your standard, you will abandon the task because it does not make sense to spend time on something that you're not going to conquer. You feel discouraged when things don't go right, and feel immense disappointment if you fall short.
9. You're self-conscious: You are very conscious of any situation which might give others the perception you are not perfect. You worry about your reputation, and feel the need to appear flawless. You avoid situation that may compromise your reputation and your actions are heavily planned and scripted.
These are just the basics to the perfectionist lifestyle, and any perfectionist will know that there is so much more to it. Truly perfectionism is like a second religion. So I propose this question: What do you believe is the 10th trait of perfectionism?
That post is absolutely amazing. Since I am a total perfectionist myself, this describes my feelings all too well. I can totally relate to sitting in front of my laptop producing music all night and cursing my pitiful existence when I find out that I turned a knob one micrometre too far to the right.
It also amazes me that most perfectionists are so blind when it comes to their achievements. Even if they don't end up with their required standard, it still brings forth massive improvements which they would have never achieved if they weren't so determined.
It's so important to give yourself credit for your hard work and understand that what you're doing is beyond most others. Self-care is so important and it's necessary to give yourself a break when needed. Don't overwork yourself - your well-being is important.
This is so me..... It's test week and I literally pushing myself to revise for tests and beating myself up if I don't get a prefect score. The scary thing is I tried asking myself if I aced all my tests, would I be happy? And the answer came out no, because you are too flawed and you don't have a right to be happy.
The achievement of a perfect score only lasts a little while before your next imperfect score comes around to ruin it. Truly we must learn to love our selves and our achievements along with all it's flaws and imperfections.
I didn’t notice that I was a perfectionist, in big part because ‘perfectionism’ wasn’t the trendy word for it back when it started complicating my life. In fact, I still find relating to this word difficult. In my mind I do not try to be perfect. I try to be good according to whatever standards seem relevant at the moment, and getting perfect scores, first place or some achievement often has nothing to do with it; having unreasonable standards doesn’ t always mean wanting to be perfect. May not seem like much of a difference.. but I do not get a sense of belonging when reading about perfectionism, even though many of the traits are mine as well.
But, for the lack of a different word, let’s say I am a perfectionist, and here’s a trap I’m facing right now.
So too much perfectionism is bad, and I should restrict it to live a happier life, that’s what this and other articles say. So I try, make slow progress and it’s great. But at the back of my head there is always a neon sign that says something like this: you are a perfectionist, and thus, by definition, you are not perfect.
It took me months to put the feeling into a sentence, and it makes me dizzy just thinking about it. It’s hard enough between separating my sometimes crippling standards from my real values, between outside demands and my own… Trying to balance the subconscious need always to have done better than I actually did, and the logical conclusion that it’s madness. Now my perfectionism agrees with my logical side… but is it a good thing? I've no idea.
Perfection means different things to different people - although perfectionism has some pros (It makes you an overachiever, you usually work harder or do better than most etc.) it can be very exhausting. It's important to take care of yourself, and not beat yourself up over mistakes, realism is key - you need to see more grey area than black and white, otherwise you risk illogical negative thinking.
The road to happiness is long and hard, but understanding your condition and accepting yourself will get you far.
I think that the 10th trait of perfectionism is not listening when other people tell you, you don't have to be perfect or denying that you are a perfectionist. You just keep saying "but it has to be perfect" and ignore people when they say that it is very good and that it doesn't have to be perfect.
Yes this is very true! I often find myself doing this as well - I must do this, I must be that I must have a certain look or reputation. You feel as though no one else understands you, they don't feel the same need for these crippling standards.
Ugh, that's me. It keeps me from either starting or finishing my stories, clearing games, and God knows what more it affects. I have no idea on what to do, though?
I think everyone deals with perfection in their own ways and you have to get unique and think outside the box when it comes to managing it. Here is a few ideas:
I think one good step is to acknowledge your hard work and yourself.
[| Make a list - Make a list of your strengths, competencies and assets is a way of seeing a different you in the mirror.
[| Make a list III - Each morning make a list of the things you have achieved, it can be as simple as “Woke Up, Got out of Bed, Ate Breakfast etc.” - this will help you understand your accomplishments during the day and give yourself more credit for these small, influential feats.
So it would be like every item on these lists are "small perfections" (because they are accomplishments), and something to look up to even if whatever else doesn't work? That sounds good enough, I want to give this a try.
I mean, for an example, last week I finished a game for the second time and I just let it slide when I messed up. That's what I want, I can't count how many times perfectionism made me feel upset and it's getting really tiresome.
I had a very interesting conversation about perfectionism with my therapist. We were working on the topic of forgiveness, and he asked me to offer a sincere apology to myself related to perfectionism. The apology that I came up with first was that I apologized to myself and asked for forgiveness for not being perfect. But what he proposed was more radical: apologizing an forgiving myself for holding myself to perfectionist ideals and unachievable goals.
It just shows how warped your perception of yourself is. You initially believed that you were at fault for not being perfect, but the real issue is the fact you hold yourself to such unattainable standards in the first place. Forgive yourself for putting that kind of pressure on yourself. And forgive yourself for not seeing yourself as enough. Because you are worth so much, but that perfectionist mindset will never allow you to appreciate your true value. It's so important to love yourself no matter your flaws.
Perfectionism against myself is one thing I'm trying to hard to work on. With the emotional abuse I faced I have a severe phobia of failing or being considered a failure. It's a very difficult thought process and pattern to break out of but I'm hoping to eventually break that cycle.