Do you have to be perfect? In all ways? In some ways? Do you get frustrated because you never quite arrive at perfect? Do you give away too many of your thoughts and your time in effort to become perfect? Do you notice that people in your life get tired of your quest to be perfect?
I can think of many clients who have struggled with this idea of perfectionism. I have had children come to my office and tell me that if they don’t get an A or 100% on their assignment, that they are not smart enough. I have had clients who spend so much time trying to perfect a task, like cleaning their home, that they missed out on their families. I even once had a client share that if he had to go to community college instead of a University, that he was a failure and he considered ending his life.
Perfectionism breeds anxiety because we end up being frantic about expectations that we must reach that cannot be met. We all know that no one is perfect, and you and me and everyone, we fall into the category of “no one”. Yet, many of us still strive for something that we know we cannot achieve. After the constant anxiety about having to be something we cannot be or do something we cannot do, we can easily fall into a depression, feeling unaccomplished or not worthwhile.
In addition, the people around us often feel like they aren’t good enough because they can’t live up to our expectations. As I have spent time with individuals who seek for perfection, I notice that I tend to question my own worth and my own goals. I begin to feel like I’m not good enough or my expectations should be higher, and it ends up being hard to be around people who require perfection.
So where do we go from here? Instead of striving for perfection, we can strive for excellence. Excellence allows us to have a human journey and learn from our mistakes. Striving for excellence helps us to continue to have goals but attach our worth to our “human-ness” and not to our accomplishments. It allows us to take criticism and not judge. Striving for excellence helps others feel comfortable around us and allows us to have different paths to this attempt at excellence. Excellence gives us room to breath as we take two steps forward and one step back. It keeps our anxiety from escalating and gives us space from depression.
It doesn’t have to be perfect because it never will be. But, it can be excellent. And, that description of excellent is ever-changing, never static. Challenge yourself today to try seeking for something excellent instead of something perfect.
Until next time,