I used to think perfectionism was being picky, very scrupulous and detail-oriented. Or the person humble bragging about why they take forever to complete a project, “I guess I’m too much of a perfectionist.”
Only in more recent years have I become more organized, but even now I don’t think anyone would use the above to describe me. I’m more concerned with the big picture and I am pretty easy going.
So yes, while all that may be true of some perfectionists, perfectionism has much more to do with your ego and the “shoulds” that you, others, or society have placed there.
For example, I may learn about my ego and how to observe it and then my ego will then think “well now you have the tools to combat your ego, so if you ever feel bad again there must be something wrong with you.”
Pretty interesting, right? Your ego is always out to make you think there is something wrong with you and perfectionism is the defense mechanism against that. That hyper awareness of checking all your boxes and covering all your bases to avoid some kind of pain, discomfort, or rejection.
Only there’s no way to completely avoid those things.
This video about the ego really resonated with me.
The Effects of Perfectionism
Being a perfectionist can result in being a high achiever but it can also result in being an underachiever, especially if it causes you to procrastinate. For example, since perfectionists want a perfect solution to every problem they will put off working on the problem until they find the perfect solution. In other words, they never start. In the home environment, this is why you see people make piles of things everywhere, because they haven’t found the perfect place to put things, discard of things, or the perfect amount of time to dedicate to a project. I definitely do this! Here’s some more details about the effects of perfectionism taken from an excellent article:
“Extreme Procrastination. While they may ultimately get a lot done, people who struggle with perfectionism are often terribly inefficient in their work, suffering from persistent and intense procrastination. After all, never starting is a good way to ensure we don’t fail.
Opportunity Cost. Along with the inefficiency of perfectionism-driven procrastination comes the problem opportunity cost: All those extra hours and units of energy spent striving for perfection could have been spent on any number of more fulfilling activities and experiences.
Chronic Stress. Perfectionism drives people to constantly do more, leading folks who struggle with it to take on far more projects, challenges, and stressors than they can reasonably handle. This surplus of to-dos quickly leads to chronic stress and burnout.
Persistent Dissatisfaction. People who struggle with perfectionism have the above mentioned ever-present voice in their head reminding them of how much there is to do and how badly they should feel if they don’t accomplish it. Aside from the guilt and frustration that results from this persistent inner critic, long-standing perfectionism makes it difficult to truly enjoy things in life and find genuine satisfaction. It’s hard to enjoy the present when we’re always looking ahead to new tasks or behind to old failures.”
So what do you think? Are you a perfectionist too? I think it’s great to have this kind of self-awareness because it directs you to areas you need to grow. Realizing that I’m a perfectionist made me realize my problems with procrastination weren’t just because I was lady or whatever it actually was because I was waiting for a perfect solution and was frozen until I did. When you can correctly diagnose your issues you are put on a path towards of growth instead of staying stuck in shame and blame.