You have invited your best friends over for dinner, the entrée is wonderful and so is the main but the apple pie was slightly burnt and you consider the whole dinner party an utter failure. Welcome to the world of a perfectionist. You get upset because your partner fails to make the bed in the morning or leaves dirty dishes in the sink some mornings. This is the life of a perfectionist who will in the end worry himself/herself into misery.
Being and knowing you are imperfect will give you a wonderful feeling or release. It is so human to be imperfect. It does not matter about being right all the time. Say, “Stuff It”, and enjoy the serendipity state. Sit back and see what happens to fill the void. Nobody is or ever has been perfect so having unrealistic expectations of yourself and others will only lead to negative thinking, unhappiness and depression.
Perfectionists tend to think others are thinking and reacting negatively towards them when there is no real evidence to support it. Friends are actually getting on with their lives, in their own heads, and they don’t care, or even give it a second thought, that the apple pie was slightly burnt. It fact it made them feel better about their own past cooking mistakes if anything.
It is very hard to live with a perfectionist and they need lots of encouragement to let things go and not to be right all the time. There is good research evidence that an unhappy childhood can cause people to take extreme control over life matters for their own security. This highly developed internal sense of control then carries on into adulthood, never trusting serendipity. To be mentally healthy we need to have a balance of a sense on internal control and enough trust of the outside world to let people and events in.
A perfectionist will feel; they must be seen to be perfect, others should do the right thing, find it difficult to make decisions unless all things are perfect (he/she is not suitable as a partner because he/she snores or is too thin/fat or has pimples) and in order to be accepted I myself must have a perfect body. Wow that’s a lot of things to get right in a world where we constantly struggle in disorganized chaos.
I hate to admit it but I have, in the past, been a bit of a perfectionist but now I realize how unrealistic and counterproductive perfectionism is. So what can you do if you are one or how can you help your partner to just let some things go and stop being one.
Tell them to get out of the house earlier than usual as they tend to take ages to leave, invariably getting to places late or in an extreme rush. Start doing things imperfectly deliberately. Run the vacuum cleaner over 80% of the carpet and leave the rest. Pile unwashed dishes in the sink. Leave the rubbish bin full. Just experience what happens in that void. The world will did not crumble. At first there will be a great sense of unease but move through the unease and release will eventually come. “Stuff it!”
In the long term perfectionism leads to anxiety and depression along with illogical and distorted thinking. Force yourself to not be perfect and consider a world where you are not placing unreasonable demands on yourself and others. Feel that great sense of relief and go out and buy/make a badge which says, “I Have the Courage to Be Imperfect.”