My Mom always says - there is a very thin line between the two extremities of anything; good and bad, happy and sad, love and hate. As I grew up, I added another pair to the list - meticulous and perfect! I was brought up in quite a balanced environment - my Mom would work with me on languages, my Dad would work on Mathematics and Science; my Mom would inculcate a sense of responsibility, my Dad would give me room to be an individual free to make her own choices. This helped me strike a balance between things. But my own urge to better myself and to excel at whatever I did led me to become so competitive, that at one point my meticulousness almost reached perfectionism! I am glad I had friends who helped me out of it and helped me let my hair down! But not everybody is lucky! Read on to understand what perfectionism is and how to overcome it.
Everyone of us aims to achieve expertise in what we do. We put in that extra bit, go that extra mile and try to hone our personal and professional skills. However, that does not mean you are a perfectionist! There are two basic types of perfectionism; normal and neurotic. While normal perfectionism can be regarded as the act of taking conscientious efforts at doing something and deriving happiness out of it, neurotic perfectionism is a disorder in which a person is never satisfied with the things he/she does. For example, one fingerprint on a glass bowl, and the person would go about washing the bowl all over again, with soap and water, and rinsing it thoroughly and wiping it clean again; and on top of that the person would feel utterly dissatisfied with him/herself. While ordinary perfectionists would be okay if they messed up one little thing, neurotic perfectionists fear not being able to deliver. They fear imperfection in their own eyes.
Ways To Overcome Perfectionism
It is observed in all age-groups, even in children. Overcoming perfectionism in children can be especially difficult, as most of the time it is the parents who tend to push their children towards perfectionism without actually being consciously aware of it. There is a very thin line between being a normal perfectionist and being a neurotic one. The urge to excel is indeed a constructive force and will help you in ways more than one. But too much of anything is not a good thing, and I am sure you have experienced this and agree with me. Perfectionism starts with small things and ends up becoming a big problem! Similarly the cure begins with small steps, small lifestyle changes, and goes on to bring you inner peace and happiness.
Understand and Accept
No one likes being told their faults. It is not a pleasant feeling to get to know traits about yourself that people do not like. But honest feedback, taken constructively, will only and only help you. Understand yourself, accept yourself, and love yourself. If you don't love yourself, how will people around you love you? The world is not perfect, it is not black and white; but that does not mean it is not a nice place to live in. Similarly, even if you realize you are a perfectionist, that does not make you a bad person! Okay, you are a perfectionist; but you are also a great cook, an excellent singer, the best trekker in your group, a doting mother, and probably the best friend a person could have around in times of turmoil. Realize this.
Know That "It's okay."
Once you accept yourself, try to teach yourself that it is okay to not do all your assignments on time, it is okay to not go jogging if you don't feel like going, it is okay if you don't make your kids a meal today, it is okay if you don't do the laundry today; learn that it is okay to make mistakes, it is okay to go wrong. We all know since school that to err is human, to forgive, divine. But sometimes we don't realize this applies to ourselves as well! Forgive yourself, for it really is no big deal if you don't do one out of scores of things right! The sun will still rise in the east, and the world will go one being the same old self it was...
Inculcate Lifestyle Changes
Be realistic. Be practical. Be gentle and kind to yourself. Be compassionate. Be reasonable. And most importantly - BE YOURSELF. Sometimes our urge to please takes us to very dark places. Even machines - which are programmed to do certain things over and over again - break down and go kaput at some point of time! We are humans! We are bound to make mistakes. If you can't do something, it doesn't mean you are stupid. You just don't know how to do it! So? You didn't know how to walk when you were born. You didn't even know your own mother tongue! But you learned. And you did a great job at it, didn't you? you don't fall when you walk; you don't falter when you talk. There is nothing in this world that one can't learn. And there is absolutely no reason to feel ashamed about yourself if you don't know something.
Get people you trust - your best friend, your wife, your teachers, your colleagues - involved. Ask them to help you out. Ask them to gently point out to you when you are going over-board! Ask them to help you out in your quest. And if that does not help, seek professional help. Do not feel ashamed about it. Man is a social animal. We are meant to help each other out and progress together; and this does not apply only to society, it applies to YOU too. Do not shy away from tackling your problems. Do not try to hide. Do not try to pretend. The minute you accept yourself, people accept you too. As ridiculous as that may seem to you right now, it is absolutely true!
Kick-back, Relax and Enjoy Life!
We get one life - at least only one that we remember anyway! Enjoy it. Live it to the fullest! Dance in the rain without worrying if you are going to fall and create a scene! Break a cup out of your favorite tea-set - it is only a tea-set after all! Stain your favorite tunic! Loose your most treasured ink-pen! And realize that all these things do not matter more than your inner peace. These things do not matter more than your happiness. They are not worth you losing your sleep over them. They are not worth you losing your confidence in yourself.
Balance is very important in life; and it has to be instilled right from childhood. Do not go to the other end of the spectrum and become careless in your tryst to overcome perfectionism. But at the same time, do not punish yourself for petty 'mistakes'. Take a chance at things, and you will have the time of your life!