The problem of perfectionism

Can being too good be bad?

It sounds paradoxical, but needing to be good, can be a problem.  We are raised to be good, to please our parents and do what we are told. But, for some people this may become the royal road to dissatisfaction in adult life.

Why? Because no one is perfect, and the pressure to be perfect may make you a model citizen, but not a happy camper.

Here’s an example:  During the recent hurricane in New York, one of my patients came late to her session. She apologized profusely. She hates being late, always works hard and holds herself to nearly impossible standards of perfection.

I said:  “You expect yourself to be stronger than a hurricane?”

This opened up memories of trying so hard to please a demanding mother. She never felt in charge of her own life and lived in fear that no one would love her unless she was perfect. Life wasn’t fun; it was hard work.

You may have had demanding parents. Or felt that only by being the perfect son or daughter, could you earn your parent’s love.

When you realize how much of life’s pleasure you are sacrificing for perfection, you may be able to give yourself a break.  You may also find that people don’t need you to be perfect, that you are demanding more of yourself than anyone would reasonably expect.

More posts about life issues:
Trauma in Civilian Clothes (June 17, 2013)
Holiday Gift-Giving(November 25, 2012)
Romney on the Couch (September 20, 2012)
Kate’s Private Moment (September 19, 2012)
The Hand That Rocks the White House (September 6, 2012)
Friendships As We Age (July 19, 2012)