P is for Perfectionism

Perfectionism = Procrastination. This might sound weird to some, but it’s true for many. If I want it to be perfect, and I know that my chances of getting it perfect are slim to none, it’s easier to leave it until the next day. Or the next. Or the next. Or . . . well you get the idea.

Perfectionism=Disappointment. When you aim for the stars, it is highly unlikely you will reach them. (Am I also a pessimist?)

Full confession here. I started writing this post by talking about how I think my perfectionism affects me. Then, just to be sure I wasn’t inflating my own sense of self, I  took a break to read about perfectionism on Wikipedia, as well as a few semi-scholarly articles that I could find. Then I took some on-line tests. (The Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale and The Almost Perfect Scale–Revised or APS-R)
Why did I do this? To procrastinate? Partly. To confirm what I already knew? Mainly.

And now I know that I cannot label myself a mere run-of-the-mill perfectionist; I am a maladaptive one. For those of you who think you are perfectionists, but really aren’t, or if you’re lucky enough to be an adaptive perfectionist, I highly suggest you read about the differences and why perfectionism can be an utter curse. And please don’t use it as a throw-away term. Not everyone is a perfectionist. In fact, you are very lucky if you aren’t a perfectionist. You can still strive for excellence. Maladaptive perfectionism is very, very different from striving for excellence.

For instance, here’s a small snippet I came across on  Wikipedia that clearly addresses some of the issues related to perfectionism:

Researchers have begun to investigate the role of perfectionism in various mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and personality disorders.Each disorder has varying levels of the three measures on the MPS-scale. Socially prescribed perfectionism in young women has been associated with greater body-image dissatisfaction and avoidance of social situations that focus on weight and physical appearance.

So, I’m 3 out of 4. I’m pretty sure I don’t have a personality disorder. Pretty sure. But not entirely.

Basically what perfectionism boils down to for me can be summarized in four words:

I’m (this word may be replaced with It’s) never good enough.

That’s it, that’s all. No matter what accomplishments I have, what accolades have come to me, it’s never good enough. I’m never good enough. It’s hard to live in a world where you never measure up. When the bar is that much higher for you than for others. When all you really want is to just be happy. I thought of all the specific examples I could cite from my own life to illustrate this point, but it just made me sad. And all I really want is to just be happy.

This blog is partly to help me with some of my issues of perfectionism. If I waited until every entry were perfect, there would be no blog. So I guess I’m moving forward in my struggle with perfectionism. I get anxious every time I hit the publish button on my computer, but I force myself to do it, and tell myself that it’s okay to publish something that isn’t absolutely perfect.

So forgive me if things aren’t quite perfect. I’m trying. I really am. And believe me, it hurts me more than it does you.


Perfectionism (Photo credit: Mr Ush)

To learn more about perfectionism (adaptive and maladaptive) I’d suggest beginning with Wikipedia. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good place to start.




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