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When I first graduated from university, it was one of the typical questions in job interviews; “What are your weak points?”. I would proudly answer this question as follows; “I'm a bit of a perfectionist…”. The reason I said proudly was of course because I thought it was a good thing, because I was taught that perfectionism is a characteristic of those who are more hardworking, not content with less, and have high goals. Life has taught me well that it is not so. Perfectionism is one of the most toxic thought patterns, especially for happiness and success… In this article, I will talk about why perfectionism harms us and a feature that should be replaced by perfectionism.
When I was a little girl, I had a pink, sweet-smelling diary. I would dedicate a page to my friends and ask them to write me something. When I found that notebook a few years ago, I realized something very important: My parents also wrote me a page each, and I was very touched when I read it. Just one small detail allowed me to find the roots of a very important trait about myself. My father and mother had encouraged me a lot to go beyond the limits in their writings, to be almost perfect. Is that why I became a perfectionist? Of course not, but I have affirmed what expectations my parents raised me with. If you're a child who was raised with high expectations like me, you may be aiming to be perfect at some point in your life or still, and unfortunately that is not a realistic goal at all.
So what is perfect? “Perfect, complete.” is defined. It may sound good, but is there anything even in nature that is perfect or complete? If you said yes, think again, because Stephen Hawking, one of the world's most well-known physicists and cosmologists, said, “One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. There is no such thing as perfection. Without imperfection, neither you nor I could exist.” said.
Then we understood the first point we needed to understand: Perfectionism means chasing an unrealistic goal. In fact, we can better define it as: “The capacity to set unrealistically ambitious goals to think that failing to achieve those goals is unacceptable and a sign of personal worthlessness.”
What does chasing an unrealizable goal do to us? Since the goal is unrealistic and we will not reach it, what we reach does not make us happy. Because a perfectionist is never satisfied with less than perfect. Since he cannot reach perfection, he can never feel successful. This causes self-confidence to erode over time. Unfortunately, the opinions of others are very important to him and he cannot tolerate criticism because of his eroded self-confidence. This pushes him to fear and stress, thinking that he will not be successful, this time he starts to delay what he needs to do for his goals. Studies show that perfectionists achieve much less and are exposed to much more stress. There is also scientific data that perfectionism causes anxiety and depression.
Substituting "superior achievement" for perfectionism
If you frequently experience some or all of these things, it means that the poison of perfectionism is circulating in your body. But don't worry, perfectionism can be transformed too. So how? Putting “superior success” instead of perfect… That is;
By focusing on the purpose of the project rather than focusing on the outcome of the project and how others will evaluate the work.
By starting to enjoy the process instead of anxiously focusing on “what if I fail”.
Instead of aiming for perfection, aiming to achieve better than one's previous state.
Yeah, easy to say, I know. As someone who has lived with this toxic mold for years, I am still busy clearing his neural networks in my brain. But the good news is; I'm getting better and better. So take a step towards self-confidence and change. For example, when setting a goal, ask yourself "Is this a realistic goal?" Ask, set goals to surpass yourself, not to impress others. Memorize each experience of failure as the teaching you need to achieve your goals. Accept that you are a developing being and see that everything that happens to you is a gift that contributes to the development process.