The drive for PERFECTION is learned very early in one’s childhood. It is based upon the assumption that if we are “perfect” we will be loved.
But in fact, PERFECTION is a SHAME-based drive. It removes one from the moment, reduces playfulness and confidence.
It has no limits.
The drive for PERFECTION goes on into infinity, which is limitless, and has no boundaries to help shape an outcome. Someone needs to clue the hamster; the turning wheel never stops.
The need for perfection can sometimes signal the need for constant self-evaluation and the almost obsessive drive to defend oneself against comparison, all fueled by FEAR.
The drive reduces creativity. It also discounts feedback from others who might experience a different perspective.
PERFECTION is the welcome mat for self-loathing. It cements the inability to trust one’s instincts because they are undermined by the assumption that everything they do is never good enough.
Perfection-driven people can never be “wrong.” They hold themselves to a rigid standard and are intolerant of having any flaws.
Their environment is meticulous, and you will never see a coffee cup in the sink. They are hypersensitive to any changes around them, always living in fear mode.
Another clue that a person struggles with being a PERFECTIONIST is that the voice in their head can be unforgiving and unwilling to let go. They are afraid that somehow forgiving someone would admit self-defeat and require tolerance, a bending of the “rules.”
A child’s entire focus when perfection bound, is on the goal, not the process. Even when winning, there is that tiny voice in their head that is saying: “it’s not good enough.”
There is no rest for the weary. PERFECTION is a treadmill never to be walked away from. Say ‘hello’ to Hilde the hamster in your head.
Be warned: excellence and perfection are not the same.
Excellence is about doing the best you can for yourself regardless of what others think of you.
My client Tanya’s drive for perfection bordered on obsessive-compulsive (OCD). She came from a family that was very sports-focused and less attentive to her other needs.
She was extremely competitive in soccer, basketball, and softball and she won constantly. Tanya connected the accolades with affection, but the focus was on her accomplishments and not on her efforts.
She was first-born and had three younger siblings. This is important because the competitiveness for attention was around her 24/7.
But as many trophies as lined her bookshelves, what she really wanted was her mother’s attention.
In her family winning was everything, but she always felt empty when she came through the door after each match.
Often as she got older, she had to set up dinner; her mother worked during the day and was going for her PhD in the evenings and everyone focused on themselves, even forgetting to congratulate her on another win.
When I met Tanya, she was dating a man she was crazy about but could not take him seriously because he was shorter than her.
“Not marriage material,” she told me. We were able to piece together that his being shorter made her feel as if she were on a figurative pedestal.
When he looked up at her she literally felt as if he could not see her clearly, ergo, he could not see her for who she really was on the inside.
Just like the trophies in her bedroom, her fear was that he could see what she had accomplished, but not who she was as a person.
Gaining that understanding freed the monster in her closet.
Tanya is now engaged to him and wears 3″ heels when they go out.