The Burden of Being Perfect
We all strive to be better at what we do; this is part of the way that we improve our self-esteem. Accomplishing things makes us feel good, and the better we do things the better we feel. However, there is a danger that this can extend into perfectionism.
A sure route to diminishing your self-esteem
I’m sure that we all understand the major pitfalls with trying to be perfect. One of the difficulties with perfectionism is that it is a sure route to decreasing your self-esteem – it just isn’t possible to be perfect all of the time. When we aren’t perfect, we can feel like we have failed, undoing all our good feeling – no matter how close we came. Paradoxically, this can heighten our efforts to be perfect.
Unrealistic expectations and their transmission
Another danger of perfectionism is that it makes us impose these same unrealistic expectations on others. Like us, these other people have no chance of achieving these expectations, which can lead to them feeling criticised and that they have failed – and increasing their own doomed pursuit of perfectionism. This is one of the ways that perfectionism can be ‘transmitted’ from person to person.
The illusion of attainment
However, one of the more unexpected downsides of perfectionism is the belief that we have obtained it. In this state, be believe that we are right and that by comparison, others must be wrong. This false position of infallibility can be destructive to our relationships and blind us to the person that we really are, and to the positive attributes of others.
Perfectionism is one of things that you might choose to explore through psychotherapy to increase your self-understanding, to improve your relationships with others – and to learn to be easier on yourself and others.
– Tim Hill
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