Who would not want to be perfect?
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Pretty obvious, don’t you think? Everyone wants to be perfect, right? Yet perfection can be a huge pitfall in your thinking if you want to make progress on anything. When everything always needs to be perfect, when will something be good enough for you to say that you have made progress and be satisfied with it? You are human and not a machine, aren’t you? It’s not about accepting mediocrity, but about being satisfied with the growth and possibilities of the moment. This way you can always celebrate small successes and you will remain motivated to continue towards the goal.

Character trait
Some people have perfectionism as a trait in their character. Almost everything they do is characterized by this need for perfection. You might wonder what drives these people. Is it a seemingly unlimited need for appreciation from or validation by others perhaps? That may play a role but in itself will never be enough for a perfectionist. After all, they set the bar so high that nobody can reach it. In the end, what they always experience is the confrontation with themselves. Even when someone else thinks what they did was great, it is never good enough for a perfectionist. This is because deep within their subconscious there is a conviction that they are not good enough. It is the filter through which they see the world and with which they repeatedly confirm this belief for themselves while striving for perfection. After all, the goal is always (just) out of their reach.

What you water grows
When it comes to perfectionists, it makes little sense to advise them to fight against such a belief. The idea that there is something wrong with them that they need to change becomes an obsession in itself that confirms the pattern of perfectionism.

Of course, if you consider yourself to be a perfectionist, there is a reason for making changes because perfectionism is not only a burden on yourself but often a burden for others as well. Others may struggle and resent it when what they do is never good enough in your eyes. Instead of rejecting this behavior and blaming yourself for it, it may be more fruitful to accept this tendency and become conscious of it so it doesn’t run your life. Instead, when perfectionism shows up, you now can examine it and put things in perspective. When held to the light of day you may consider some things too extreme and come up with a more realistic goal. This allows for a more considerate and respectful treatment of yourself and others. Instead of fighting perfectionism you consider all options and take a different path, so to speak, which offers a new way to achieve the goal. The more frequently you do this, the more you will find that you can have and can make a different choice. Of course, in the beginning, it will feel like a stretch and you may feel awkward and inauthentic. But consider how authentic being driven by perfectionism is.

Once you recognize the underlying self-limiting belief of not being good enough, can you still truly say that this authentically you? It may feel a bit forced in the beginning but eventually, you will see a different reality and perfectionism will fade into the background.

Are you not a perfectionist?
In that case, perhaps you suffer under the perfectionism of people around you. You cannot convince a perfectionist of being good enough. After all, a perfectionist will always have proof they are right and are not good enough by setting the bar too high. However, leaning towards the position of the perfectionist may be a solution. That is not the same as sharing the same point of view or admitting they are right! For me, leaning towards means that you are understanding of what motivates the other and see both the advantages and disadvantages of it. If you express this in an understanding way and ask if the other person also sees both, a new experience and dialogue can arise. This improves the possibilities for collaboration and sustainable relationships.

Nothing wrong with perfection!
Of course, there is nothing wrong with a perfect result, but then you should be able to enjoy it too! This can be achieved by appreciating the whole process that took you to the goal, including all the effort it took with all its ups and downs. For this to happen it requires that you learn to appreciate your growth and be happy with yourself, just the way you are!

How you think determines what you see,

determines your behavior and your communication,

determines your experience and the relationships you have.

How does your communication with yourself determine your life?

Govert van Ginkel

This article is written by Govert van Ginkel. Govert specializes in Nonviolent and Effective Communication and is active in this field as a trainer, speaker, coach, and mediator. More information about Govert can be found here. The current training offer can be found here


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