Mothers, brothers, daughters, employees, employers, co-workers, husbands, wives……Yes, that’s right –just about everyone at one time or another has the unreasonable expectation that we (or someone we know) should be perfect. I don’t know about you but I confess that I have found myself on both sides of that unattainable fence at one time or another. But how does this ridiculous notion come about? How do we come to expect that as a normal human being, we should be perfect? Perhaps worse, how did we get the idea that another person should be meeting our needs, wants and frequently, beyond human expectations?
Often, the source of perfectionism is rooted in anxiety.
It’s the sneaking suspicion or feeling that if everything goes just ‘perfect’ our anxiety will be quelled and we can relax. Unfortunately, this theory goes out the window when we realize that we just re-did a project 3-times, checking and re-checking for possible mistakes. We might fear taking a risk or stating our own true beliefs/ideas in case we are perceived as less than perfect or judged and found wanting. On occasion, we get grounded in the very anxiety we seek to avoid and never actually get a project off the ground, our work finished or plans started because we procrastinated far too long.
Sometimes, perfectionism is something we learned from someone else.
Somehow, we learned and accepted that we are entirely inadequate if we aren’t perfect, our work isn’t perfect, our conduct isn’t perfect. If we weren’t anxious in the first place, we are certainly on the road to those feelings of unease when things don’t go just so. Once on the endless road to perfectionism, some people can assume negative traits that stagnate their own socioemotional development. Their thinking can become black and white, catastrophic or simply extremely negative. For these folks there is the unsettling feeling that there can be no ‘perfect’ and therefore little possibility for happiness.
When we expect another person to join us, albeit unwillingly, in our own irrationality – perfectionism, we truly overstep the mark. Whether it is a parent expecting a child to get high grades no matter what, an employer expecting that an employee will never make mistakes or a spouse expecting a partner to never falter—we truly impose unfair standards that can never be met. Even worse, we may set that person on the painful road to perfectionism as well.
If you struggle with perfectionism, take a leap of faith, have the willingness to address your own perfectionism and make a healthy change by calling our office in west Toronto.
The perfectly imperfect staff at Toronto Psychological Services