Can there be such a thing as perfection?
Many people think of perfectionism as something positive. It is often seen as the pursuit of excellence, setting high standards, and working hard to challenge one’s self. People often have good reasons for being perfectionists. They may say that it allows them to be efficient, organised, or prepared for anything.
Although having high standards and goals may help us achieve things in life, they seem to be fair more relevant during our younger years (in school, university, at first job). Sometimes these standards get in the way of our happiness and can actually impair performance. This is the paradox of perfectionism!
Pursuing these personally demanding standards can have a significant impact on your wellbeing, and can lead to frustration, worry, social isolation, depression and a persistent sense of failure. This kind of pressure is likely to cause you to feel constantly on edge, tense, and stressed out.
Perfectionism is not necessarily about being ‘perfect’. Ask yourself this question… Is it ever really possible to be 100% ‘perfect’? So, if it’s not about being ‘perfect’, then what do we mean when we talk about perfectionism?
Although there’s no perfect definition, we understand perfectionism to involve:
1. The relentless striving for extremely high standards (for yourself and/or others) that are personally very demanding, these high standards are typically not sustainably achievable.
2. Judging your self-worth based largely on your ability to strive for and achieve such unrelenting standards.
3. Experiencing negative consequences of setting such demanding standards, yet continuing to go for them despite the huge cost to you.