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The Problem with Perfectionism

Many people, both young and old, struggle with perfectionism. Notice I said “struggle with,” not “strive for.” That’s because a desire to be perfect is certainly not healthy and not something people should strive for.

Pursuing perfection typically focuses at looking for what’s WRONG. This can quickly put anyone in a negative state of mind.

Additionally, the desire for perfectionism often results in negative physical symptoms. For example, nail biting may arise from perfectionism. The driving force behind nail biting may not be a nervous habit but instead anxiety in the form of perfectionism. Mounting evidence shows that people who bite their nails, pick their skin, or pull their hair are often perfectionists. Their action can also be an attempt help soothe boredom, irritation, or dissatisfaction—all possible variations of anxiety.

Another manifestation of perfectionism is that people stop learning and stop trying. In other words, they simply give up. When striving for perfection becomes tyrannical, many people develop anxiety attacks. This leads to the thinking pattern that they cannot perform because they will not be good enough. The next stage is total paralysis.

It’s time for everyone to realize that perfectionism should never be the goal. Outstanding work, excellent work, and superior work, rather than perfect work, should be the aim. Realize that perfectionism in life’s vast experiences can never be achieved. Teach and live by the mantra: “YOU CANNOT LEARN AND BE PERFECT AT THE SAME TIME.”

Tip: Pursuing high standards and excellence focuses on what’s RIGHT. Most humans in most endeavors will fulfill their responsibilities more effectively when asked, “Are you satisfied with your work?” rather than “Is what you have done perfect?”

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