by Ilio Masprone – Publisher – Knight of the Principality of Monaco for cultural merit
MONACO. First, what is “perfectionism”? Sometimes strive for perfection can actually prevent us from having a happy and successful life. Doubts, fear of failing, and obsession with detail can become obstacles in reaching a goal. When a little voice deep inside us whispers “more,” “better,” “you must do a little more”, this is a catalyst that can motivate us, help us to persevere, and even lead to some success. But when left unchecked, it can also become unhealthy, leading to anxiety and inaction.
Usually, perfectionism is an unhealthy response to anxiety. If we find ourselves saying perpetually “yes, but …”, a starting point is to stop after the “yes” and savor the positive emotions it procures as we speak well of ourselves, without denigrating or minimizing a success. In fact, the additional “but” undermines self-esteem, and catalyzes the perfectionist to do even more. Persons like these need to learn how be content with doing something well, with a “yes,” without constantly pushing for perfection, especially in respects to careers. The desire to please one’s hierarchy, to climb a career ladder, to earn more money, can lead to permanent stress, insomnia, and irritation. This demanding nature can also manifest itself in pastimes, especially in sports where performance supplants pleasure and relaxation.
The development of perfectionism generally starts from the early childhood. Sometimes a child believes that he is expected to present always excellent results. Sometimes parents center on “perfect” performance and the child strives in imitation of perfectionists parents. For instance, dance, piano, judo must remain fun instead of being transformed into a new race for awards and recognition. Finally, the worst situation happens when a child forces himself to be obedient and responsible so as not to add to the problems of the adults.
Also school can be a mold for perfecting. Its constant mantra is “you can do better.” Our society also demands zero mistakes — one perfect body type, one acceptable world view, and the flawless and speedy execution of professional tasks. Each individual must succeed both personally and professionally.
Depending on our personality, our education and our background, we are all more or less sensitive to these pressures.
Anyway, there is a good kind and a bad kind of perfectionism. It is good if it serves to achieve an important goal. The good kind of perfectionism is constructive.
To avoid turning into something pathological, the key is to adapt our sense of perfectionism to whatever we wish to achieve.
Keeping our own objectives in perspective and investing in what is vital is the right kind of resolution. Wishing to accomplish everything perfectly, we miss out on the essential, so the important thing is to allow us to extract ourselves from “100% perfect.
Main source: Aleteia.com