I’ve discovered that the greatest danger to a balanced perspective is perfectionism. You know what perfectionism is, right? It’s that little invisible cloud hovering above your head called “Never good enough”. It hides the sunshine and keeps the light from getting in. It rains on your parade and stifles your enthusiasm. Even when you earn a hard-won victory it’s negativity seems to overshadow the good things in your life.
PERFECTIONISM IS CAUSED BY EXTREMISM
Whenever I feel myself obsessing over perfectionism, I often hear words like, “Never! Always! Everything! Nothing!” As in…
- I NEVER get it right!
- He/She ALWAYS messes things up!
- EVERYTHING is horrible right now!
- NOTHING ever turns out good for me!
These are extreme words. Extremism is one of the causes of perfectionism. Extremism is “All-or-Nothing” thinking. Extremism looks at things from an unbalanced perspective. Such as, “If everything isn’t perfect, then nothing is going well.” Or, “If this doesn’t go right, then nothing else will either.” A little extreme, wouldn’t you agree?
These extreme kinds of thoughts matter. Proverbs says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Extreme thoughts lead to extreme emotions which cause extreme (unbalanced) perspectives.
PERFECTIONISM CAN LEAD TO ESCAPISM
What is escapism? Escapism is the desire to retreat into a fantasy world of stimulation: pornography, narcotics, alcoholism, sleeping too much, staring at the t.v., endless all-night video game playing, and gambling can all be forms of escapism.
Personally, I believe that perfectionism causes much of this. If I tell myself that I must succeed or I must not fail, then if I fail, it follows that I might just stop trying altogether, give up and back-peddle into a shadow world of sensory stimulation hoping to forget about my own imperfections.
Escapism is really just the desire to stop feeling pain. Failure is painful. Even the prospects of failure can be painful. So, to avoid facing that pain, people are often tempted to do anything to numb it, even indulging in things that are at worst, harmful to them, and at the very least, counter-productive to their goals and desires.
PERFECTIONISM IS CURED BY ESSENTIALISM
Greg McKeown, in his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, says that the answer to breaking through to the next level in our lives is the disciplined pursuit of less, but better.
Perfectionism can quite literally cause us to try to “be perfect” in so many areas of our lives that we experience “brain-fry”. Our emotional system gets fried and breaks down, in much the same way that a robot’s system shuts down when it’s wire-system gets overloaded.
Michael Hyatt, in his article The Paradigm Shift That Helped Me Defeat Perfectionism Once And For All, agrees:
“Perfect is the enemy of the good, but so is distraction. If you have too many irons in the fire, you’ll get burned out. It’s better to focus on what matters now and see it through. Then you can turn to the next thing.” – Michael Hyatt
He encourages us to narrow our focus in order to defeat the perfectionism trap. As you focus on “the essential”, you more easily maintain a balanced perspective; something each of us needs to stay healthy emotionally.