Perfectionism Can Create Environment of Loss
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Consider how much you lose by being a perfectionist. Then, think about what you would be doing with your time and energy if you were not focused on trying to make everything in your life be top of the line, above what is expected from others and without mistake. Whew! Perfectionism can act as a ball and chain that isolates you in life, robs you of enjoyment and can interfere with your ability to get close to someone you love.
Take this quiz to determine whether you've been effected
by a drive to be perfect.
You'd experience new freedom if you let go of your need to be perfect all the time. Take a moment and jot down five losses you have experienced as a result of being a perfectionist.
Would you like to enhance your life? Here's some steps to change your outlook.
1. Look at where the perfectionism started, and how it began to effect you. For example, it may have started in childhood. Sometimes parents put too much pressure on striving to be the bes because they think that will make their child's life easier in the future. Other times perfectionism grows when a child feels like he is living in a fishbowl, with eyes of others in the community upon him. For example, children of preachers, therapists, politicians and others who have a public persona are often cautioned about how their behavior effects the perceptions of others upon their parents. If you grew up in an alcoholic home or a home where a parent was not emotionally available, you probably spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out the right moves to keep the peace, or keep everyone happy. Though you really had no control over your troubled parent, that childhood illusion often sets up a pattern in life, where you think you have to painstakingly analzye and work toward controlling outcomes. Of course you could never have been perfect in achieving that goal because a troubled home is very unpredictable, and you can't control what other people do, anyway. Yet, children are not able to screen out or even understand intent. They often perceive that their job is to please parents and other authority figures. Sensitive kids also just put on an unusual amount of pressure upon themselves. Learning where the drive to be perfect began, then start to work in a healthy way on disconnecting from the loss it contributed to your life. Body Sense devotes a chapter Owning Your Hidden Losses that may be especially helpful. It also contains specific information on identifying how those old core feelings can continue to sabotage your life today.
2. If you are a perfectionist, you probably spend
a fair amount of time feeling not good enough. That's one of the
core feelings discussed extensively in Body Sense. Unfortunately, when you can
not be perfect at everything that message may be triggered and you could be
overwhelmed with a belief that's not really true. However, if that sits deep
inside think about what you have lost. If you grow up believing you are not
good enough, can you see how you would be attracted to relationships where your
partner reinforced that message? Or, a relationship where yuou kept trying to
prove yourself by chosing a partner that you have to keep trying to fix. Not
likely to happen.
If you've answered yes to any of these questions, you want to step back and
consider the most crucial. How important is this (task, event, etc) to the rest
of my life? That can put things into perspective very quickly. If you spend
too much time at work and neglect your family, you may set yourself up to lose
not only wonderful enriching years as a spouse or parent, but your perfectionism
could ultimately lead to the loss of a marriage and broken relationships with
your children. You also would be modeling how you want your children to approach
relationships. So, step back and consider what is most important.
6. Finally, make a conscientious effort to let go and enjoy life!
Brenda Crawford-Clark, LMHC, LMFT, NCC ęCopyright
2001 Brenda Crawford-Clark
2001 Brenda Crawford-Clark