Are you a perfectionist? What does it give you? If not...why?

Canada
January 8, 2008 12:26am CST
I have been working with a client who is a died in the wool perfectionist and has come to the realization that she wants to change because it is not longer working for her. Of course many of our personal experiences end up here and we open them up for discussion...and here we are again with this one. For some being a perfectionist gives them a lot of pride and ego gratification. For others it creates an inner dissatisfaction that is never satisfied...no matter how good a job they do. I would be interested in hearing your views on this. Are you perfectionist yourself...or do you know someone who is? If you do impact does it have on the quality of life? If not...do you have a more laid back approach...or somewhere in the middle? I am happy to report that I used to have really tough driver..."Ms. P" was what I called her. She was always hounding me and telling me nothing I did was ever good enough. Through time and during my growth process I woke up to the fact that Ms. Perr----fectionism was actually the overly critical voice of my father. Through time I was able to tell her to put a sock in it...once and for all! Now I still strive for excellence...but I can stop when I know I've done a good job and savor it. When Ms. P was in control that was never possible. The woman I am working with has reached a similar place in life and I am confident that the tools I am offering her will assist her in relaxing her perfectionist expectation of herself and others and improve the quality of her life as mine has since silencing the harsh inner critic. Anyway, look forward to hearing your views on this one as I do with all all the discussions we have. Raia
3 people like this
10 responses
@kalav56 (11503)
• India
8 Jan 08
I think I should call myself a "selective" perfectionist[it may sound paradoxical but I think that is the way I am].Let me explain. When I do something where my inner conscience tells me that I am capable of doing much better I do not leave it till the last ounce of effort is exerted. Where I have to do something because I have to, then I do it as much as I can and my conscience[which knows my limitatiOns] does not trouble me too much. 'I can do only this much in this area '-it says so and I go on. Sometimes, due to some fault, oversight, or some reason I know that I have not done something well. In that case, I pull myself out, analyse the issue threadbare and after mentally hitting myself, still console myself saying that it is 'better late than never' and go about diligently rectifying the mistake. This happened to me recently in the stock market where I made some mistakes. I whipped myself, worked, took some decisive action and now I AM ALRIGHT. But one thing that I have learned in life[seeing others and the activity and expectation in other houses ' is that expecting perfection in oneself and doing things silently to achieve this is totally harmless. On the other hand expecting perfection in a household, environment/ anywhere only makes one and the surrounding people unhappy and miserable because each individual has different priorities and preferences. One may look for a perfect kitchen, one for a perfect hall, one for a perfect relationship,perfect behaviour, and---- what not!!!!!!there are different norms for different people in subjective issues.
3 people like this
• Canada
9 Jan 08
Your assessment of your perfectionism sounds quite balanced in my view. The fact that you can let things go and move on sounds far healthier than those who constantly 'woulda, coulda, shouda' themselves endlessly. Your approach does not surprise me because you present yourself as a confident woman with much insight and clarity. Those who can never take satisfaction in a job well done have often have some self-esteem issues to work through...at least that has proven to in my life coaching work. From what you said here I can relate to what I call 'striving for excellence' and I no longer consider that part of the old patterns of being overly driven to do and re-do rather than doing my best and moving on. We are absolutely of similar mindsets on how destructive it can to for loved ones when someone projects their issues and unrealistic expectations on others. As I said in my discussion..we are all works in progress with different levels of awareness and change if and when we can from the inside out. No one will ever force another to change by nattering and condemning others because they do not measure up to some exacting standard...that I know for sure! Another thoughtful response...thank you Kala. Raia
• United States
8 Jan 08
Seeing as things are never perfectly perfect, I try not to be a perfectionist myself. Since I already know the road that would lead me down if I ever tried to be one. Would be a rather unhappy road for me to take. Though I strive to be good at whatever it is I may be doing, it don't have to be done in the perfect sort of manner. If I know I did the best job I could do, than I am happy and leave it at that. I've learned over the years, that life is a happier state of being, if it is taken one stride at a time and as long as we tried our best in whatever we may be doing, it still has that certain pride/accomplishment factor to it.
• Canada
9 Jan 08
Ohhh my goodness...yet another mirror for my thinking! You have VERY eloquently stated my view on things now as well. As I mentioned in the previous response I am a Capricorn with Virgo rising and had a lot of innate hardwired thinking about my exacting standards...for everyone...and most of all for myself. You are right it can be an unhappy road to take. I feel so grateful that with my hubby and friends input, encouragement, belief in me and support I no longer feel the need to prove anything to anyone. I am content to do the best I can and when things mess up I learn from it and usually do things better as a result of it. I can also stop, breathe deeply and savor things in ways my busy, perfectionist brain never allowed me to before. Yes, personal growth and the gift of life...how fortunate I feel. Now to be sharing what I learned with others in the number of ways I do...another blessing and gift that gives back every day in large and small ways. Once again...a true delight to be sharing what we do! Raia
1 person likes this
• United States
10 Jan 08
:) I can understand how it can be for one who was brought up in a like perfectionist lifestyle. Have had many friends over the years who had been in the same lifestyle, and through my own observations and listenings know it can be an unhappy life to lead at times. My Mom and Grandmother always told me that there will be things one will excel at, and things that one will struggle with. And if it happens to be one of the things you are struggling with, than if at least you had tried to do your best, than it still will be a job well done. So I try to live my life in that frame of mind day to day.
1 person likes this
• Canada
17 Jan 08
Sounds like your grandmother was a wise woman...and in many ways I received that message from my Mom too. However, my father was very rejecting and for years I tried so hard to win his approval (but never did) and I think that is where my 'Ms. P' thinking originated. Thankfully, with David's input and loving, accepting ways and a lot of personal growth those days and ways of being are gone forever...and it is sooooooo immensely liberating. So you have a great approach to life on many areas...and I love to read about things in your 'lens of life.' All the best...and glad to hear you are all safe. Thanks for letting me know. Raia
@Lakota12 (42684)
• United States
8 Jan 08
Oh no not ME! wouldnt ever work here to many people around to mess it up! I do what I have to and if its not good enough thats to darn bad. I am not a white glove kind of person. and living here in the desert would be impossible to keep dust out of the house. My sis in law used to be she is blind now and cant but every friday she would get down and scub floor and all tht stuff and her hubby never said a word of praise to her about ti all he wanted was dinner on the table when he got home (which could be midnight sometimes) and plenty of food for he was a big eatter . I please myself I get along better with me then. and I holler at the ones that mess it up ot dont do what they are surpose to do and its got to be on time I just hate to keep telling them what to do 100 times before it gets done when I was well I would do it myself to get it done now am working toward that again but I will let them keep their little jobs that I gave them for they are hey ones I dont care to do lol. hugs
1 person likes this
• Canada
9 Jan 08
It is such a pleasure to read your wise woman approach and your live and let live attitude...YES!!! I used to be a real nag when David and I were first together trying to manage everything and make sure every aspect of life measured up to my exacting...and usually unrealistic standards. When I think back how I drove both of us I am amazed that he loved me enough to not tell me to put a sock (or white glove) in it and go back to his happy bachelor days...but he didn't. The really challening part was that he was, admittedly quite messy and did not subscribe to my 'place for everything and everything in its place' ideas in the beginning. After being together for over 17 years we assisted each other to not be so polarized in our attitudes and behaviors. David sees that keeping things reasonably well ordered does cut down on the time and frustration he had in looking for the multitude of things he lost or misplaced. With his input I am no longer driven. Because we work from home and sometimes have clients come by we keep our home in good order...but with 2 big dogs and 5 cats people need to accept that we will never have a Martha Stewart or home and gardens house...but it is clean and tidy. Our view is if you don't want dog and cat hair on your clothing...probably not a good idea to drop by. Even though we do not live in the desert as you do our country roads are not paved and they keep adding shale to maintain them. That creates a lot of shale dust, especially when it is hot and dry...so we also find it hard to keep the dust down in the house...and of course the pets add to it as well. So our home won't pass the white glove test either. So once again we share similar views...wow this is getting to be rather amazing..but then we are soul sisters in the energy realms...so maybe not so much of a surprise after all! Smiles, hugs and a lot of love my friend. Raia
@Lakota12 (42684)
• United States
9 Jan 08
am glad ya worked it out. now I think I meantioned that no one touches my desk one time. Well Linda did and I cant find a thing and the very next day I needed several thing and had to make her look for where she put it lol. took her awhile too yup we are alot alike in our thinking hugs
1 person likes this
• Canada
17 Jan 08
Oh yes...we are see things the same way on the 'hands off my desk' policy too! I have certain pens I like and truly do have a place for everything and everything in its place in my office. David knows that and respects it as I do with him...but other than that striving to reach an impossible perfected state in a world that is ever-changing...not for me anymore...THANK GOODNESS!!! I sent you an updated e-mail and we will continue to keep in touch...'cause I just gotta keep in touch with my special gal-pal from down South! Warm and caring thoughts as always, Raia
• India
8 Jan 08
yes, I am a perfectionist… at least I try to be one all the time. It’s a bother really coz people tend to take advantage of you. The moment you start disliking what they are doing, they will just dump it on you and move an and the perfectionist will take it up from there and complete it according to personal satisfaction. It also spoils relations coz you are never satisfied with whatever people are doing for you neither can you praise and accept that someone can do a job better than you can. But even then I cant change myself. I guess it has something to do with my sunsign…virgoes are basically perfectionists in everything.
1 person likes this
• Canada
9 Jan 08
Oh yes...the Virgo perfectionism...even though I am a Capricorn I have Virgo as my rising sign and as I shared within the discussion I have had to work VERY hard to soften my position with myself...and others. I know what you mean about what a turn-off exacting perfectionistic standards on others can be. My hubby David and I had our fair share of wars about my attitude and it has truly assisted me in being able to live a faaarrrrr...more satisfying life and for him too. Personally I do not subscribe to the fact that we people cannot change...but that is based on my personal and professional training and experience. If I did not believe that I would find my work as a life coach and group leader pointless and overwhelming dissatisfying. Even within things we CHOOSE to believe are hard-wired in...they usually are not. My hubby is a firey Aries by nature...and I am a hard-headed Cappie with perfectionist Virgo rising. When we both made the decision to accept that anything that is working against us needs to change...we do. Not that the traits totally go away...but we all have a choice in HOW we respond to anything in life...and I know from experience that even perfectionists can give themselves and others a break and relate in more honoring, loving ways. But remember...this is just my perspective! If being a perfectionist works for you keep on keeping on. If not you can always choose something else...and such is this journey we call life! (smiles and shrugs!) Raia
• India
9 Jan 08
Hi Raia, Yes the Virgo perfectionist…no I am not OK with it. I am angry with myself for butting in where I am not expected, I am sick and tired of carrying others’ loads for them (just because I want the load to be carried perfectly) and so on. After fighting with myself for years, I am slowly changing. I have begun to accept people as they are and to seek the goodness within them, their perfection in their own way and to acknowledge and applaud it. It has not given me pleasure exactly, but a lot of peace within. And (as you said) life goes on. Sudipta
1 person likes this
• Canada
9 Jan 08
Hi and thanks for another for your up front and honest reply. I totally get where you are coming from and I have been there...and done all of that too! I found that letting go and zipping my lip...taking a deep breath and asking myself why whatever they are doing or not doing was pushing my buttons. When I finally was able to admit that to myself that my behavior was obnoxious, rather arrogant and not very loving at times it gave me a great reason to back off and respect others right to do things the way they see fit. I was trained to do that in my life coaching experiences and once I decided to apply that principle with everyone else in life I liked myself more...and so did everyone else. Yep, judge not lest we be judged...there is a profound aspect to that truth once we really begin applying it. Anyway...good luck with transforming the harsher sides of our Virgo selves while still striving for excellence within our own path. Fun chatting about this...thanks! Raia
@williamjisir (22903)
• China
8 Jan 08
Hello again, dear perspective friend. Well, speaking of perfectionists, just a few days ago, I received a long text message from one of my girl students who just got back home from college. She was feeling so awful when she told her mother about her plan to take part in some kind of English examination for getting some professional certificate to be held in June 2008. Her mother was not encouraging her, but always trying to say something critical that discourages her. Her mother is somewhat a perfectionist. My student was complaining about this. I really have no idea about what I could say to her. This student of mine is now quite confused and puzzled about her mom's attitude towards her, making her think that she cannot find someone to have a good chat with in her house feeling so lonesome and helpless because of her mother's treating her like that. I feel so bad for her. From this matter, I don't think that it is a good idea if someone is an over-perfectionist because it can make someone lose heart in what she is trying to do well. Thanks so much for your quality discussion and I have to say that I love it very much. Thanks so much, my dear perspective friend, raia.
1 person likes this
• Canada
9 Jan 08
Oh my...your feedback and encouragement about Perspectives topics means so much...thank you. I have been mixing up some lighter and more in depth disucussions because as much as I love the 'thinker' ones I also like to learn more about new and old Cyber friends and what is important to them in more personal ways. Knowing what people like to eat, how electronics fits in for them and television shows they enjoy...it is, in my view a great way to gain a fuller understanding of the lives we lead. I am sorry to hear what you student is going through. Parents have no idea how badly they can affect children's sense of self sometimes. Perhaps you could encourage her to try and tune out her mother's critical voice and discuss her choices with you or others who will help her assess what will be best for her to do to follow her heart...and career path. I think some parents find their children's achievements a threat if they are not inwardly confident about their own identities. As unhealthy as it may be jealousy knows know age limitation and there are many unhealthy parental influences that carry through into adulthood. As a life coach and group leader we constantly hear about the devastating effects of harsh, critical and emotionally nonsupporting parents. It often becomes the inner voice in the child's head and nothing they do feels adequate. This is when unhealthy pefection-ism goes into a downturn. The fact that she reached out to you shows she respects and trusts you. My suggestion is to encourage her to 'listen to that Still Small Voice Within.' It is where Source speaks to us...and it will never steer us wrong. Hope she finds the clarity she is seeking. If there is anything else I can offer...feel free to ask. Caring regards to you and yours, Raia
• China
9 Jan 08
Hello dear raia. Thanks so much for your response and I am glad to say that this student of mine loves to discuss her happiness and sorrow and problems that she has with me. We have very good teacher-student relationship based on trust. I am always encouraging her to do the right thing she thinks for the good of her future. Yeah, thank so much for your generous help. Have a good day, my dear perspective raia.
1 person likes this
• Canada
9 Jan 08
She is fortunate indeed to have a trusted ally like you. I am sure you impart much wisdom to her...because for our chats here you have keen insight and what appears to be a lot of intuitive knowing. Sounds like a great combination for the work you do. You are most welcome for my comments my friend..I value yours as well. Raia
@anniepa (27236)
• United States
16 Jan 08
I've known a few total perfectionists in my life and they sure don't make life easy, for themselves or for those around them, and it gets them absolutely nowhere! I believe in striving for excellence whenever possible but I've come to realize that, like most everyone else, I can't expect to excel at everything I do. It's enough to be able to excel at a small handful of things! That's not to say I don't do my best and try my hardest at anything I undertake but I see no sense in beating myself up if things aren't always perfect. I'd much rather be around someone who messes up now and then but has a healthy attitude about it than someone who insists on perfection all the time, because that's something that's impossible to attain. Annie
1 person likes this
• Canada
17 Jan 08
Wow...I just saw that this post showed 2222 as your credits...good for you. I have a way to go to make my 2000th mark...but I am slowly inching along. My respond time is always first and even though I do not make as many credits...I sure do have some great chats by responding to every response and I'll take that any day! Anyhow I really like your overview on perfectionistic thinking and agree with everything you have said here. Excellent response again...and thanks for your regular visits Annie...I appreciate that and all you contribute. Warm and caring regards, Raia
• Cambodia
9 Jan 08
Yes I am so I tend to be very harsh with myself as well as with others. So with years I had to learn to balance things and get a bit more pragmatic. Now I try to improve things but give time to do so.
1 person likes this
• Canada
9 Jan 08
Hello...wow another new Mylot member...it is great to see how many are coming into Mylot land and adding who they are and what do to our sharing forum. I like your newer approach and are willing to give things time to outwork and evolve. Exacting standards are hard on people...and harshness is not a great motivator...I learned that valuable life lesson by experience. Thanks for your addition here...come back anytime! Raia
@wisedragon (2330)
• Philippines
8 Jan 08
No I'm not a perfectionist. I just try to live my life as best as I can, and to give as much love as I can. That's good enough for me. I can die peacefully with that.
1 person likes this
• Canada
9 Jan 08
Well my friend...from what you offered here that is why you are indeed...a 'wise' dragon. Like your outlook and philosophy...and thanks for offering it here. Raia
@peanutjar (5211)
• Canada
8 Jan 08
I think im kind of in the middle of being one and not.I like to do things to the perfection but also understand that there comes a time when failure will come if i try to hard and just slack back some.Im more loose now with the whole perfection things and like it that way without getting stresed about being perfect with what ever i do and i know when to stop and be satisifed with i've done:) Peanutjar:)
1 person likes this
• Canada
9 Jan 08
Yeah Peanutjar!!! Your approach is aligned to mine and doesn't it make life more enjoyable than 'wouda--could-shouda-ing' oneself (an others) with exacting standards that are often impossible to meet? Yep, do things well...and give pats on the back when we do. When we don't do a course correction and keep on keeping on. That is my simple recipe for healthy, happy balanced living even though it took me awhile to figure that out and walk my talk. Better late than never though! Cheers, Raia
• United States
8 Jan 08
I do not look at my self as a perfectionist. I always do/give my best and that is as close to perfection as I get. I have met people who are obsessed with being perfect in all aspects of their life and I think they are wasting time instead of enjoying what they have achieved. Actually I do not think anyone is 100% perfect.
1 person likes this
• Canada
9 Jan 08
Cannot do anything but nod and nod again. All that you have offered here reflects my views as well. I agree that no one I have ever met is perfect...or has the perfect life even while the outer appearance of things may lead one to believe that...initially. We all have parts of ourselves that needs work...and in my view that is what makes the adventuresome journey that it is. You are so right about those who are so driven that they have no time or inclination to stop and enjoy the fruits of their efforts. Been there...done that...no more for me...or you! Ahhhhhhhhh Raia