I’ve been researching my possible perfectionism, in part to find out whether there is a way out of it. The University of Exeter had a very helpful web page. As well as listing the differences between healthy striving and perfectionism, there are some coping strategies given.
Another useful resource for combatting perfectionism is found on the University of Illinois’ web site, here, which includes various strategies too, most of which are already in my mental toolkit. So it seems I am already aware of and staving off these tendencies, and have been for years. Perhaps the difference at the moment is that I am fighting negative feelings which invade constantly, so my guard is lowered. The stress, left too long, led to a kind of mental crash, which has highlighted other areas of mental weakness.
The BBC have some information too, here. Their questionnaire recognises six dimensions of perfectionism, which are listed as:
Concern over mistakes, Personal standards, Parent expectations,
Parental criticism, Doubting of actions, Organisation.
I score higher than average on most areas (especially concern over mistakes, personal standards, parent expectations and doubting of actions). My parents did not make me feel that I was failing them, even when I flunked Engineering exams. But I come from a family of high achievers, sometimes in areas I could not match. I don’t want to remedy what makes me ‘me’. I am happy when others achieve. I guess my desire to do the best by others and do what is right, at whatever personal cost, has burnt me out.
I am more than happy with the theory of learning through failing, and encourage it to a fair degree in children. I know what it is to fail, and pick myself up again. I am pretty fragile now though. The reality of this failure is hitting hard, and the perfectionist in me is aching for a break.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
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