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September 17, 2012 / mike54martin

Nobody’s Perfect So Stop Trying

It’s okay to try your very best, but nobody is perfect and to expect perfectionism from ourselves or others is a difficult path to travel. That’s because we are all human and we all make mistakes. A person who tries hard and makes a mistake gets up, dusts themselves off and tries again. A perfectionist who makes a mistake may just lay there on the ground moaning about how bad they are that they aren’t perfect.

There is a very thin line between that striving for perfection and wanting to be perfect, but the difference is a whole world of hurt. Children who have been trained to always be perfect often turn out to be very unhappy adults and workers because their best will never be good enough. Unless it is perfect. Perfectionism robs us of the simple pleasures of working hard and enjoying what we do achieve.

Perfectionists appear to be great workers but in fact what psychologists and psychiatrists have found is that that this creates many difficulties for the workers themselves, especially in regards to their physical and mental health. Another trait they have observed is procrastinating or delaying doing certain things unless the perfectionist thinks that they can complete the task to perfection. They also become risk adverse because they are afraid of making a mistake. All of these factors in turn lead to unhealthy adults and workers who have high levels of anxiety and low esteem.

There are enough pressures in today’s society without the added burden of having to be perfect. As Winston Churchill once said “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

So if we have developed the trait of perfectionism is it too late to change? Not according to Dr. Martin Anthony, a psychology professor at RyersonUniversity in Toronto and coauthor of “When Perfect Isn’t Good Enough.” His tips:

Get to know your perfectionism by becoming more aware of your patterns of thinking and behavior, and their effects on your life and those around you. What are your triggers?

Challenge your thinking and question your beliefs and start doing things like weighing the costs and benefits of spending time making everything perfect.

Change your behavior by exposing yourself to what you fear: Practice making mistakes, though not if they will lead to terrible consequences.

Dr. Anthony encourages people who are perfectionists to deliberately send a letter to a friend with typos in it. And then laugh about it. Because one of the best ways to stop being a perfectionist is to stop taking ourselves so seriously. Lighten up a little and learn to enjoy both life and work a little more. It’s okay to make a mistake.

Basketball coach Chuck Daley once said ” It’s discouraging to make a mistake, but it’s humiliating when you find out you’re so unimportant that nobody noticed it.”

This post originally appeared on my blog at www.jobs.ca

Mike Martin is a writer and the author of The Walker on the Cape, a mystery set in Grand Bank, NL. For more information please visit www.walkeronthecape.com

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3 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Suzette Green / Sep 19 2012 1:18 am

    Mike: What a great article you have written here. I am always amazed at your writing skills and your true gift of great insight, I appreciate you sharing with us your gift and I thank you.
    Have a great week. Suzette

    • mike54martin / Sep 19 2012 1:20 am

      Thank you Suzette. I appreciate your kind words. Hope things are well.
      Mike

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