January 11th, 2008 03:34 EST
Perfectly Imperfect: How to Break Free of Perfectionism
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly”
-Robert F. Kennedy
Getting good grades, academic or athletic honors, and receiving parental praise can significantly boost self-esteem. It’s fun to win, be the best or be deemed number one. Still, it’s often difficult to continually improve or become better than previous efforts.
Perfectionism can trigger a vicious cycle of self-defeating behaviors and unhappiness. Trying to be as thin as an uber-lithe friend, as athletic as a sports-savvy sibling or as super smart as a study-happy cousin, is a recipe for disaster. Many young people struggle with an addiction to perfectionism.
Perfectionists are often addicted to the rush that comes with receiving accolades. They are extremely sensitive to others’ achievements and feel continual pressure to achieve bigger and better. They don’t feel that they’re ever good enough.
Many irrational beliefs contribute to perfectionism. Perfectionists often dwell on their mistakes and focus on their flaws and failures. Many perfectionists don’t give themselves credit for the time, effort and work they do. They always feel that success is only attainable once a certain goal is reached.
There are many negative consequences to perfectionist behavior:
o Low Self Esteem
o Compulsive Behavior
Perfectionism can manifest itself psychologically and physically. Those struggling with perfectionist tendencies can began to use drugs, develop eating disorders, or even drop out of school for fear of failure.
A Canadian study recently identified three types of perfectionism. They include: perfectionism towards one’s self; this person fusses over details, takes on too many responsibilities, and tries to be the best at everything they attempt. The second type, perfectionism towards others, involves a person who creates conflict in relationships with others, someone with unrealistic demands and expectations. The last type of perfectionist is a perfectionist who is pressured by societal values. This type feels they must constantly achieve and meet high societal standards. They must shape themselves according to cultural ideals and they overwork themselves.
Perfectionism can be overcome. Everyone fears failure and most people have many insecurities. The people who are successful in life don’t fight their weaknesses, but celebrate their strengths. A good attitude, strong social support and the ability to laugh at one's mistakes are absolute musts in order to live a healthy and happy, well-adjusted and perfectionist-free life.
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