I had a call this morning with one of my beautiful clients – and yes – they’re all beautiful. Problem was – she’d developed Perfection Paralysis. Yep – a very technical term – you’ll find it in all the ……ok in none of the serious psychological texts – but it should be.
Perfection Paralysis stops us from starting things or finishing things – just in case they’re not perfect. And it definitely takes all the fun out of everything we do.
And if what we’re doing is no fun …… well then ……where’s the fun in that?
And seriously – stuff should be fun.
Before we go too far into Perfection Paralysis let’s get something clear about Perfectionism.
There are 2 types:
- Standard Perfectionism which is striving for the goal of flawlessness but with realistic expectations and realistic standards. That means that you try to achieve the best you can which boosts your self-esteem and makes you feel pride in yourself.
- Then there’s ‘Neurotic Perfectionism’ where you have incredibly high and unrealistic standards for yourself. Neurotic perfectionists tend to be motivated by fear – fear of failing, fear of disappointing others, fear of feeling shame and guilt for not being perfect.
So let’s just take a look at how this would work.
Person with Standard Perfectionism is learning an instrument. They practice regularly but never expect that they should be anything but a beginner at the beginning. They make a mistake and it’s all just a normal part of the process of learning. They keep practicing and slowly get better and better and better.
Person with Neurotic Perfectionism (not my title for it by the way – I would have used something that didn’t sound so yukky) is learning the same instrument. They practice with enthusiasm initially but then cos they expect they should be perfect and have unrealistic expectations of themselves as a beginner they quickly become discouraged. They make mistakes as all learners do but they tell themselves they’re hopeless at playing – they loll about in the shame for a while. They don’t want to practice anymore cos they’re not doing it well enough – more shame and disappointment. It becomes a chore and they stop. They tell themselves they’re no good at it and that they failed at learning.
But the only thing they failed at is being kind to themselves.
Perfectionists are really really hard task masters.
How do I know?
I used to be the poster child for Perfectionism.
And yes it would stop me starting stuff. And it would stop me finishing things. And it nearly made me give up on learning guitar and put up some serious barriers when I was looking at starting my business.
PPPhhhhlllggghhhh (insert raspberry blowing me) to you Perfectionism. You didn’t stop me.
But wait……. In the interests of staying interesting I’m going to give you some stuff to ponder this week and tell you more about Perfection Paralysis next week.
Things to ponder:
- What kind of perfectionist are you? (if you are at all)
- Are you a perfectionist in some areas but not others?
- Has there been anything you’ve wanted to start (like networking if you’re in business or starting that new creative project) but haven’t because you think you won’t be good enough?
- Has there been anything you haven’t finished (like a website if you’re wanting to start a business or a book you’re writing) cos you think the finished project won’t be good enough?
Let me know at my Facebook Page.