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Being perfect is neither possible nor desirable

2022-01-13T23:22:43.448Z

Extreme perfectionism is a compulsive lifestyle that has a high personal cost and can lead to anxiety or depression. Sometimes hides low self-esteem



Being perfect means having no blemishes, flaws, or weaknesses, and who would say that isn't a legitimate goal?

For many, perfectionism is an advantage;

It is commonly applied in the workplace to describe behaviors one is supposed to aspire to if one wants to be successful—high standards, dedication, attention to detail.

This is a myth, perfectionism has elements that distinguish it from what it would be like to aspire to do things well, it is detrimental to health and performance.

This is confirmed by the famous writer Truman Capote in the preface to the book

Music for Chameleons,

in a comment with which he comes out of the closet of his own perfectionism: “Then one day I began to write, not knowing that I had chained myself, for life, to a noble but ruthless master. When God offers us a gift, at the same time he gives us a whip, and this only has the purpose of self-flagellation”.

Perfectionism affects people of all ages and walks of life, but it is particularly on the rise among students. A meta-analysis that included 41,641 British, Canadian and American university students between 1989 and 2016 showed linear increases in the percentage of young people who feel that they must achieve perfection to achieve their academic and professional goals. Such observations recently led lead author Thomas Curran, from the Department of Psychological and Behavioral Sciences at the London School of Economics, to propose that we are facing a “hidden epidemic of perfectionism”. In other words, we are under endless pressure to achieve unattainable levels of achievement measured by ever-expanding criteria.

Extreme perfectionism is a compulsive way of requiring things and the self to be perfect and exact. Aiming for perfection can have a high personal cost, it has multiple negative effects, such as eating disorders, anxiety or depression – especially among young people, the link between perfectionism and risk of suicide is an alarming fact. "It's a personality style that has very particular cognitive and motivational elements," say Canadian researchers Paul Hewitt and Gordon Flett, who have worked in the field for more than 30 years. "Our fundamental belief is that perfectionism is a diathesis that is activated in a stressful context."

According to them, an increasing number of people are experiencing what they define as “multidimensional perfectionism”, which includes perfectionism directed towards oneself, towards others and that which is socially prescribed. Whereas self-oriented perfectionism focuses on extreme personal standards, other-directed perfectionism involves demanding that others meet unconscionable expectations, while socially prescribed perfectionism involves the perception—true or not—that other people, or perhaps society at large, are imposing demands for perfection on oneself. Every form of perfectionism comes with a negative charge, particularly intense for those who suffer from the socially prescribed one: when the person striving for perfection fails, especially in the presence of others,he feels a deep sense of guilt and shame for what he perceives as a faulty performance of a faulty self.

Hewitt et al. propose a model of perfectionism based on the attachment relationships that shape the formative experiences of children and adolescents. They locate their origins in the discrepancy between the needs for attachment, belonging and self-esteem and the responses to these needs in the bond with parents or caregivers; in its broadest sense, they also consider the importance of other relationships—siblings, partners, romantic partners. Misfit produces distorted perceptions of significant others who are perceived as critical, gives rise to a fragile and fragmented sense of self, and relationship and self-schemas characterized by feelings of shame. The need to be perfect—or appear perfect—is an unconscious strategy to compensate for a damaged sense of self-worth.

How to benefit from the favor of the imperfect?

Give yourself permission to develop more realistic and flexible expectations.

Keep your own perspective and focus on what you're passionate about so you can address your perfectionist tendencies.

In critical situations it is vital to seek professional help.

We stigmatize ourselves when we fail, so it's important to learn that failure is acceptable.

Try to recognize that there is also meaning in failure.

Paraphrasing Juan Ramón Jiménez and frequent victim of the calamities of perfectionism: the perfect and the imperfect must exist in balance, each with its perpetual, inevitable, demanding and beautiful reality.

"Perfect and imperfect, like the rose."

David Dorenbaum is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst.

Source: elparis

All news articles on 2022-01-13

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