It might come as a surprise to you to hear that perfectionism is not a virtue. It might just be the thing that’s holding you back.
But isn’t perfectionism seen as a good thing? Don’t perfectionists do a fantastic job?
And what about that interview advice? You know the one that suggests you say your weakness is perfectionism?
According to the latest research, perfectionism is not such a good thing. Here are some of the proven costs of it.
Perfectionism is bad for your physical health
There is evidence that perfectionists are at a higher risk of several chronic diseases. Diseases like diabetes, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and high blood pressure.
In part, this is due to their high levels of chronic stress. Perfectionists have greater difficulty coping with chronic illness and as a result, are pessimistic about their chances of recovery.
Perfectionism is bad for your mental health
Your average perfectionist is likely to be suffering from low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.
If you’re a hard-core perfectionist, a lot of your time is spent judging yourself and finding yourself
wanting, no matter how hard you try.
Perfectionists tend to see the glass half empty. If they score 95 on a test, they beat themselves up for the 5% they got wrong. And chances are they only got a few answers wrong.
Because perfectionists can never be good enough, they fret and worry and blame themselves into a state of constant stress. And continuous pressure harms us physically and mentally.
Perfectionism harms relationships
Perfectionism is not something you want to look out for or find in a life partner, friend or colleague.
They can be nitpickers, nags, and bullies.
Nothing is ever good enough, and mistakes are seen as massive failures.
Perfectionism makes you less compassionate and patient, more critical and judgmental.
Perfectionism lowers creativity
If you’re a perfectionist, you are more likely to stick rigidly to the rules and have to do everything “the right way”.
That’s not a recipe for creative flow or finding innovative solutions to problems.
The perfectionist mind tends to be closed to possibilities and risk-avoidant. As a result, innovation suffers.
Perfectionism lowers productivity
The perfectionist is committed to everything working out correctly, with no errors and zero deviation.
That might sound great for being goal-oriented but makes you less likely to take action, especially the bold steps that are sometimes required to breakthrough.
Being a perfectionist often goes hand in hand with procrastinating. This often leads to “writer’s block”, crippling stage fright, and other forms of performance anxiety.
Unless a perfectionist can guarantee to do something one hundred per cent right, they’ll find it challenging to do it at all.
Convinced that perfectionism is a hollow and costly pursuit? Let me add this thought; life presents enough challenges without us fabricating our own.
As an alternative, I suggest that it is time that you embrace your imperfections.
Embrace your beautiful imperfections
Everyone seems intent on ironing out imperfections, from using social media filters on selfies to consciously curating their lives.
It appears that any level of fault is intolerable, and failure is a catastrophe.
And for most people that is just setting yourself up for an unhappy, unfulfilled life as the mirage of perfection moves further and further away.
Here are six good reasons to stop chasing that mirage and learn to embrace yourself as you are, imperfections and all.
You stay focused on what’s important
Perfectionists tend to get derailed by the slightest mistake or little thing that doesn’t go right. They agonise over details; they get in their own way.
If you keep your eye on what you want to achieve, not some unattainable ideal, you’ll be much more likely to reach your goals.
You’ll be more compassionate
Once you’ve stopped judging yourself for every little thing, you’ll find it easier to be kinder and more compassionate towards other people.
You’ll be more patient and not get irritated by quirks or habits where previously you might have reacted.
Embracing perfection makes you a lot less reactive all round.
You’ll feel lighter and happier
Making peace with your imperfections relieves you instantly of a whole bunch of stress. Your Inner Critic can stand down and put its feet up, allowing you to relax and get on with your life, unburdened by not feeling good enough.
Liberated from the need to be seen to be perfect, you’ll feel a lot happier and more content with who you are and what you’ve got.
It’s easier to stay in the present
If you accept yourself for who you are, it becomes much easier to stay in the present and feel grateful for your life.
Instead of anxiously chasing future goals or beating yourself up for past mistakes, you can be comfortable with the here and now, knowing you’re doing your best.
Your relationships will improve
Being a more accepting person will strengthen your relationships with family, friends, and colleagues.
Accepting that imperfection and mistakes are a normal part of life means that you become a lot less ego-driven, and judgmental.
You might even become a role model for others!
You get a different perspective on life
Once you accept that flaws and mistakes are a normal part of the human experience, you will be more resilient and grounded.
You become more aware of the bigger picture, and that life’s not all about you.
Perfectionism is not the virtue we are led to believe it is and to pursue it extracts a high cost on us.
But we can change, we are more than the habits we do.
We can embrace our imperfections and live an outstanding life.