Why Are We Obsessed With Perfectionism?

Why Are We Obsessed With Perfectionism?

written by: Irving Schattner
by: Irving Schattner
Perfectionism Perfectionism

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines perfectionism as "the setting of unrealistically demanding goals accompanied by a disposition to regard failure to achieve them as unacceptable and a sign of personal worthlessness.

You may want to ask yourself if your goals are so unreachable as to cause you unnecessary stress to the point of giving up. Perhaps it is wise to table some goals for later and work on goals that are more attainable in the short term. Being mindful of the fact that most goal posts require small steps rather than sprints to the finish, are you able to acknowledge which of your goals are most attainable? Perhaps you need the guidance of a mentor or someone who has experience tackling the tasks required to achieve particular goals.

Overcoming the Fear of Failure

Goal setting, if tempered by a realistic assessment of one's strengths versus areas requiring more knowledge or skills, can be within your grasp. However, if your goals are too lofty or based on an unrealistic assessment (or failure to assess) of your skills or abilities, you may be setting yourself up for failure. In doing so, you may find yourself immersed in a pit of anxiety, stress, worry or depression from which you cannot easily dig yourself out.

You may convince yourself that it is better to strive for perfectionism versus having no goals at all. Such an "all-or-nothing" argument fails to take into consideration a more tempered approach to goal setting and achievement. Standards that are too high can result in personal imbalance, as achievable goals are sacrificed due to a personal belief that anything short of perfect results is unacceptable. The inability to achieve these out-of-reach goals can hammer away at one's self-esteem. Over time, you may find yourself paralyzed to take action in areas of your life that require change.

If you avoid certain situations or opportunities for growth out of fear of failure, you may unknowingly reinforce future attempts at goals attainment. In order to break this pattern of perceived failure, you may want to consider adopting a kinder, compassionate "belief system" that supports a more realistic approach towards overcoming obstacles. Being driven by negative belief systems supporting a "no-can-do" attitude only keeps you entrenched in failure mode. Perhaps it's healthier to examine personal beliefs in terms of whether they better enable you to move forward or keep you stuck. By engaging in a more "realistic assessment" of real strengths and abilities, and reaching out for mentorship in those areas requiring knowledge or expertise, you increase the likelihood of a more adaptive outcome. In this vein, rather than viewing obstacles to goal attainment as insurmountable or a reflection of personal failure, you can now approach goals in terms of what's needed to get the job done.