Have you ever heard the old saying, “Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well?” Your definition of ‘well’ in this phrase determines whether or not you are a perfectionist. Perfectionism derives from the word “Perfect,” which denotes a state of excellence, completeness, and flawlessness. A perfectionist is someone who strives for excellence, completeness, and flawlessness and works tirelessly to achieve perfection at any cost.
“Perfectionism in psychology is a broad personality style characterized by a person’s concern with striving for flawlessness and perfection and is accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations”- Wikipedia
Perfectionism may sound good or bad depending on how you define it; there are certainly some benefits and drawbacks to being a perfectionist. The motivation for wanting to be perfect will undoubtedly play a role in determining this as well.
Several studies have been conducted to determine whether perfectionism is good or bad. Some researchers have concluded that perfectionism can be either normal or neurotic, with the normal being the good perfectionism and the neurotic being the opposite.
Others have classified perfectionism into positive and negative perfectionism; in this case, positive perfectionism corresponds to normal perfectionism, while the negative corresponds to neurotic perfectionism. There have been additional findings of perfectionism, and some researchers believe it is dangerous. Some even believe that perfectionism can lead to depression and other mental health problems, and they have evidence to support this claim. The challenge I have about the school of thought that perfectionism in itself is dangerous is likened to “throwing the baby away with the bathwater”. The fact that perfectionism has both positive and negative aspects does not imply that being a perfectionist is bad. There is always a positive and negative side to every personality style.
Perfectionism can be considered a plus if you possess the following characteristics:
- You are a goal achiever who can distinguish between realistic and unrealistic goals.
- You have a problem-solving mindset and the ability to focus on it while reasoning.
- You give your all in what you do and know when to call it quits without remorse.
- You don’t beat yourself up after giving it your all and it doesn’t work.
- When you fail, you don’t stay on the ground for long, wallowing in self-pity and regret; instead, you get up and learn from your mistake.
- You are able to reduce procrastination as a result of failure fear.
- You can plan and make decisions.
- You are not afraid to ask for help, even if you don’t know what you’re doing.
On the other hand, if you have the following characteristics, you have an unhealthy perfectionism, which is a detriment.
- You are driven by a fear of failure.
- You go to great lengths to avoid criticism.
- When you fail to meet your goal, you become stressed and depressed.
- You are more concerned with achieving the goal than with the process of achieving the goal.
- You procrastinate frequently because you are afraid of failing.
- You dislike being corrected and adopting a defensive posture.
- You believe you are inadequate.
- You have a strong conviction that anything worth doing must be done flawlessly, thereby setting unattainable standards for yourself and others.
- You are unable to compliment yourself or others on your efforts toward achieving a goal.
- You overthink to the point of missing opportunities.
- You are afraid to make a decision because you are afraid of being wrong.
Perfectionism can be a plus or a minus; it is a plus when the pros outnumber the cons and a minus when the cons outnumber the pros.
If you are a perfectionist and the pros outnumber the cons, you will need to make a change in order to fall into the positive perfectionism group; if the cons outnumber the pros, you will need to work on yourself in order to become a better Perfectionist.
To summarize, no one can be perfect; there is always room for improvement at all stages of life. In everything you do, you will make mistakes, fail in some areas, and have shortcomings; however, there will also be good times when you win: this is what makes life interesting. The best thing you can do for yourself is to learn from your mistakes and those of others, to take lessons from your failures, and to keep learning; after all, learning never stops, and failure is part of the learning process.
When you stop learning, you start dying.
Perfectionism is not a cause; it is simply a personality trait with benefits and drawbacks.
Some people become perfectionists as a result of their upbringing and training, as well as the high expectations of their parents and society. The good news is that everyone has the ability to learn, unlearn, and learn again. There are also changes or adjustments to a personality type that occur as a result of environmental and age changes.
Because perfectionism has both positive and negative aspects, it is safe to say that no one, not even the perfectionist, is perfect.
Things That Are Worth Doing Are Worth Doing Poorly (forbes.com)
Is Perfectionism Healthy? Recognize the Benefits & Drawbacks (samhealth.org)