Perfectionism: how to eliminate it?

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Robert Maurer
@robertmaurer
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Do you try to improve every day something you are accomplishing hoping it will be perfect in the end? Is it very important for you to get a flawless result? If you are able to develop something perfectly, do you feel you are more valuable? If you finish in second place, do you constantly complain about not having been able to do better? If you answer yes to at least three of these questions then ... welcome to the club of perfectionists! You are probably one of those people who want everything to be perfect, precise, flawless. I know many people like this, I myself have had to continually fight against obsessive perfectionism that does not allow you to continue on your path, but little by little I have learned to consider things from a more relaxed point of view. The perfectionism it is something that usually arises in childhood, stimulated by a certain kind of too demanding education that requires a lot of ourselves. Once its roots are established, the perfectionism it accompanies us for a good part of the journey of our life. But what exactly is the perfectionism? A mental scheme that we use to deal with the most diverse tasks throughout our life; it is an attitude that underlies our behaviors, and a way of thinking that determines our decisions. A pedagogical friend used to say that we psychologists are more likely to seek perfection in every activity we do. Professional deformation? Maybe, but it is certain that we must fight against the desire to absolutely perfect every detail, project, idea… Why? Simply because seeking perfection reduces personal efficiency due to the fact that we obsessively focus on improving the smaller and smaller details of our works or projects, consuming a significant amount of time that is never directly proportional to the results. Perfectionism brings with it its dose of obsession and so many times the changes we make with the aim of really improving are not substantial; it is something that does not bring anything of superior quality. But perfectionism also has its doses of insecurity and fear: many times we hide behind the facade of perfectionism because we are afraid to deliver the finished project, we fear the evaluation and criticism of others, we believe that the more time will remain in our hands and the higher the final quality of the work. It would be enough to remind us that four eyes are better than two, and that if we really want to perfect a project the best thing to do is to submit it to the judgment of others. Anyone who has had the opportunity to write a thesis can identify with these feelings. So, once we are convinced that perfection is not necessarily the friend of success, there remains only one question: how to fight it? 1. By giving ourselves permission to be human and act as such; accepting that when we start something we can make mistakes. Mistakes do not diminish our value, nor are they a brake that prevents us from moving forward, they are simply a source of learning. 2. Learning to let go of mistakes. Many times we torture ourselves with the mistakes we have made and these transmit the fear of being able to make the same mistake again, paralyzing us on the path. Once we have learned from the mistakes made, the only thing that has to remain is the learning; errors must be relegated to the past. 3. Consider ideals as guiding goals for the journey and not as rigid results to be obtained at all costs. Generally when we start a project we have a more or less similar previous project in mind that serves as a guide, but we cannot expect our results to be identical or have the same impact. 4. Be realistic. Things cannot always be perfect simply because each person or social group has their own idea of ​​perfection; thus, what for some may be a masterful work for others may be of no value. 5. Be kind to ourselves and our self-criticism. Generally, people who seek perfection are their own bitter enemies. They never accept their own results and constantly complain about their mistakes or flaws. No doubt anything is perfectible, but here and now, with our knowledge, skills and resources, we are doing the best we can. And this must be enough. 6. We learn to accept ourselves. We are specialists in something and totally ignorant about something else. We are good at some activities and we are bad at others. We cannot be perfect on average in everything, sometimes not even in the things that really matter, but if we put all our effort into it, we will certainly improve in those areas that are most important to us. Learning to accept our weaknesses is the first step to grow as people and to value our results more. 7. We celebrate successes, however small they may be, with a sense of pride. We are happy for a small stage conquered that will give us new energy to continue the journey. It does not matter if there is still a long way to go, it is important to remember how far we have advanced. Perhaps this is not the perfect path to eliminating perfectionism, and there may be hundreds of better articles that offer extraordinarily more effective solutions to combat perfectionism, but I am satisfied with this small contribution of knowledge that I have made available to you. If it can help at least one person, then I consider myself happy. Perhaps this is the attitude with which we should face the choices in our life.
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