What’s Perfect About Perfectionism?
Perfectionism is wrongly named.
I say that because what perfectionists do is automatically focus on what is wrong. Show us anything, and we will seek out the flaws. No matter how minuscule, we are sure that they are there, and our subconscious radar is ahead of us, already trying to find them.
In the "perfectionist's" world, nothing is ever perfect...especially oneself.
Perfectionists are often very busy people. We don't focus on imperfections just to sit around and complain; we see imperfections so we can fix them. Making things perfect is the whole point. And since if even one thing is wrong, it's all wrong (100% rule), we have no choice but to continue to seek out and fix every last flaw, which we then see as a basic flaw in ourselves.
So how can "perfectionism" be the right word for a world view where nothing is ever perfect? See what I mean? As a perfectionist, I've even found a flaw in the name for it.
And in true perfectionist form, I've also come up with a way to "fix" that problem -- from here on out, I will refer to that kind of perfectionism as "imperfectionism" because as imperfectionists (or better yet, as mistake-spotters), at least we make sense!
If that brought a smile or just felt right, you've just separated perfectionism from imperfectionism, which is the first step in becoming a true perfectionist.
A true perfectionist finds the perfection in everything.
Finding the perfection in everything, especially yourself, feels good and right. And rather than kicking you into action in order to fix something, each little perfection you find helps you find more.
Because I love logic, making sense of things is my primary tool for finding the perfection in everything, including imperfectionism.
When you look for the perfection in imperfectionism, you will start to see that imperfectionism actually works well for what it's designed to do -- help you spot flaws and fix them. That makes you an expert problem solver.
Check to see if this is true for you. To become an expert problem solver, you've probably had to develop some impressive STRENGTHs like being keenly observant, detail oriented, highly aware of others, self-motivated, capable, skilled at many things, etc. You probably also developed a high standard of excellence and an inner drive that just won't quit.
And I'm not kidding when I say it just won't quit, because by now, many, if not all, of those STRENGTHs and standards are probably completely automatic and effortless to the point that you couldn't turn them off if you had to. You'll know because you've probably tried.
You probably also know plenty of people who struggle to create excellence in their lives and just give up and settle for mediocrity, but not you. Excellence is just what you do.
Excellence is the gift and the perfection of imperfectionism.
Granted there are things about imperfectionism that will still seem imperfect to you like the associated stress and frustration. But once you start to see that perfection is actually present, too, the 100% rule of "if one thing's wrong, it's all wrong" will begin to crumble.
I know this is a big leap ahead, but imagine how much more calm and relaxed you would be if you started defining everything by it's perfection instead of it's imperfection (if one thing's right, it's all right). It would completely transform your experience of the world as it has mine.
That's what's possible when you deliberately start looking for the perfection in everything. I share more of my tools for doing that in What's Perfect About Perfectionism - Part 2 and give you tips on how to respond to a perfectionist child in a way that truly helps in How To Help A Perfectionist Child.