Some people tend to characterize themselves as perfectionists and their functioning is in the service of setting and achieving high goals, striving for perfection, that is, perfection in various aspects of life – most often and above all in work, maintaining their environment, their own appearance, interpersonal relationships. Being perfect is imperative for them, they are often proud of their trait and believe that it sets them apart from the “crowd” and that it will only lead them to success and prosperity. And they are right, but only to some extent.
When a person sets high goals for himself and when he is emotionally stable and possesses satisfactory intellectual abilities and talents, he will very likely achieve success in the sphere of his interest – in science, business, sports, and art. Such a person will be highly valued by the social environment on the basis of his own successes, and those same successes will contribute to valuing himself more. From the side, it is a person who is successful and satisfied with his life.
For some time, especially in the earlier stages of life, perfectionism is a fully functional and effective mechanism. However, this way of functioning has several wrong principles that will sometimes lead to negative consequences.
Why can perfectionism be harmful?
In this part, I will list some reasons why perfectionism can be harmful, not only for the person who aspires to it but also for his environment!
Setting unrealistically high goals
In general, setting high goals can be useful and motivating. However, sometimes these high goals are not in line with our capabilities and that can contribute to disappointment and giving up. The best solution is to set a realistically achievable goal that is in line with your own capabilities. Perfectionists tend to set unrealistically high goals, simply because they want to be the best at all costs and do everything perfectly. When they realize at one point that this is not possible, they become very frustrated.
Mistakes and failures are unforgivable
A person who strives for perfectionism is very sensitive to mistakes. Every mistake is experienced catastrophically and irreversibly because it is equated with personal incompetence. Although there have been many successful situations before that, it is not enough for a person to understand that he is not incompetent and useless if he has done something wrong in the current situation.
I am worth as much as I am successful
For people with pronounced perfectionism, there is an equating of personal success with personal value. A person perceives himself as valuable only if he is successful. When she experiences failure, her self-criticism and experience of inferiority come to the fore. Usually, this interpretation of failure is associated with high demands from parents in childhood and criticism if they are not met. When successful, the child brags and feels accepted and loved, and when some failure occurs, harsh criticism of the child’s personality and rejection follows.
Perfectionism can at some point lead to negative consequences for psychophysical health. Namely, the requirement for oneself to be the best and for everything to be done flawlessly, and at the same time to be flawless, represents a special kind of pressure for the organism. Frequently asked questions that a person asks himself are “What if it doesn’t turn out the way I expected?”, “What if I make a mistake?” Over time, due to constant tension and anxiety, a person may feel exhausted, empty, and depressed. Often, personal pleasures, relaxation, a balanced diet, and regular sleep are neglected for the sake of success, so in addition to emotional problems, psychosomatic problems can also occur. Usually, a person does not give up the principle of perfectionism until the organism alarms him with these problems.
For a person who is a perfectionist, it is very important to see the negative sides of this trait and give up some high demands he has made on himself. To begin with, priorities should be set and some things are done “well enough” or “solidly”, not necessarily perfectly. Further, to understand that it is not a catastrophe if he sometimes makes a mistake and that it does not mean that he is a worthless and incompetent being, but a man who sins, and error is a property of every human being. To try to curb his workaholism, which perfectionists often fall into, and through relaxation and rest, to find ways to mentally separate from work so that he can better perform new tasks.
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