Journeying Toward Wholeness

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4 Steps to PERFECT Misery Through Perfectionism: # 1

September 4th, 2013 · No Comments · perfectionism

Perfectionism, a many-headed hydra, poisons the creativity, spontaneity and vitality of a huge, diverse range of persons.

perfectionism At the extreme end of this spectrum are people who might be suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, or similar afflictions.  But it is no less of an issue for a great many other people.  It can rob the most gifted and the most humble alike.  Generally, perfectionism has its roots in a complex. This post is a bit satirical.  It’s on how to be PERFECTLY miserable through perfectionism.  Or, if you don’t want to be… here’s some things to avoid like the plague!

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Rule of Perfectionist Misery #1:  “ABC — Always Be Comparing”

A keystone element of perfectionism is that it’s essential to keep measuring myself by the yardstick of others, if I’m to find any true worth. So, I can never just be intrinsically happy with what I’ve done or accomplished or am: the only time I can feel good about anything is when I’ve done as well as  anybody else has ever done.

Keep Compulsively Looking Over Your Shoulder…

…because that’s the best way to ensure that all your approval is external, and so to completely hand all judgment on your worth over to others.  As a way to live, this is hellish: as a form of self-inflicted torture, it’s exquisite.  The truly sad thing is that many are convinced that the only way to have any value in their own eyes is to get it from others. The true perfectionist lives in constant fear of disapproval. The key to real misery is to never ask myself how I feel about myself — how I really feel about me. If I just spend my whole life abjectly trying to achieve the hopeless and win the approval of the Inner Judge of my perfectionism complex– which may be rooted in conditionally approving figures from my past, generalized social values, or even a certain version of God — then I can have an endless supply of insecurity, self-hate and misery.  And who wouldn’t want that?

perfectionism

Never Look at Your Uniqueness

Another excellent way to hurt myself through perfectionism is to shun anything suggesting that my life might be different from the lives of others.  To insist that I must be measured precisely by the yardstick applied to everybody else, because there’s no real difference between people.   Seen this way, the fact that I don’t write poetry like Shakespeare means that I should never write poetry, because “I’m no good at it”; the fact that I don’t play basketball like Michael Jordan means that I should never pick up a ball. Related to this is making the choice to never listen to, or trust my own inner voice.

 Beyond the Tyranny of Perfectionism

It’s an excruciatingly painful thing to feel that I can never be enough for myself.

perfectionism

The journey to wholeness in depth psychotherapy is very often a healing of our capacity for compassion for ourselves. A healing of our capacity to genuinely value ourselves, and to respect the unique road that is our lives. If you suffer under the burden of perfectionism, I invite you to explore individual psychotherapy as a possible way to freedom.

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© 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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