To be perfect. You may think this two-word concept has a positive meaning at first glance. Perfectionism may sound reasonable. This is what matters to me, you might be saying. You may even think that having perfectionist expectations is a positive personality trait for that person. Well, those who want perfection are ambitious, strive, talented, and resourceful. So is it so? I do not think so.
Expecting to be perfect is like a naturally blonde person wanting to have black hair naturally. Impossible to happen. Why? Because no institution determines what perfect means. Perfect for what, perfect for whom, is entirely ambiguous. As such, everyone defines perfection according to their or someone else’s criteria. Guess what happens next? As he reaches the desired point, the person expects to do better than himself. If the measure determining perfection is a mother, father, lover, or another person, their expectations are also increasing. In the end, impossible expectations are met. What a burden, right?
The nature of perfectionism
When you think about the people around you, you will see that the number of people who tire themselves and those around them with perfectionist expectations are not low. Maybe you are one of them. Perfectionism is like a contagious disease. The child, who his mother raised with high expectations, dusted again after his mother, after brushing, grows up and projects his mother’s perfectionist expectations onto others. When he has a child, he touches again after his child. This; is an endless, more contagious cycle.
So why does perfectionism continue to exist even though it pushes people so hard? Although there are different reasons behind this, the biggest reason may be perfectionism’s positive meaning for the person. The person may think that he achieved his successes thanks to his perfectionism. There is no such thing as positive perfectionism.
Why do we have perfectionist expectations?
Perfectionism is a thought trap. A thought that tells the person that whatever they do, he must do it correctly and competently. However, our thoughts do not always contain the truth. A considerable part of it consists of unrealistic ideas. Perfectionist expectations are also romantic thoughts. We cannot do everything perfectly. Nobody can do it. We can stumble, we can make mistakes, and we can fall. Our hand touches the stove, and it hurts. We will not feel the furnace again. This is how we learn to live. We make mistakes and learn lessons. We are human. We are not robots.
Perfectionism is the rules that a person sets for himself. “I must do the best in everything”, “I have to do the things I do perfectly”, and “If I make mistakes, it means I am weak and unsuccessful.” These expressions of necessity, the thought traps we mentioned above, trap us in our minds. These rules are the rules we set for ourselves. We nurture this expectation within ourselves. We watch the lightness of imperfection behind the bars of that prison of thought.
Transforming perfectionist expectations into realistic expectations
Perfectionism is a condition that alone makes one’s life difficult. Moreover, studies show that perfectionist expectations can trigger various psychological disorders such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, and anxiety. Therefore, “I am a perfectionist person.” It will be beneficial for psychological health to try to change our perfectionist expectations with reasonable expectations instead of changing the situation by saying that.
Below are realistic thoughts you can remind yourself of when perfectionist thoughts and expectations challenge you. You can write the sentences that you think will be good for you from the list on a piece of paper and keep them in a place where you can always see them or easily reach them.
|unreal thinking||, realistic thinking|
|I must always do my best.||I do my best. It doesn’t always have to be the best.|
|A job is either entirely done or not.||Life is not just black and white. There are also the grays.|
|If I fail, it’s because of me.||If I look realistically, many factors affect success.|
|If I’m not perfect, I don’t deserve love.||Love is not a deserved feeling, just being myself is enough.|
|I have to be successful in loving myself.||My self-worth is not based on my achievement but on my existence.|
|I must do everything I do perfectly.||It doesn’t need to be perfect. My stopping point is that it’s good enough.|