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Psychology Consultants, Brisbane
When you think about it, Mary Poppins is not really the best role model for children or adults for that matter. “Practically perfect in every way”… if only she knew that perfectionism is practically a disease.
A perfectionist, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary is “A person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection”. This philosophy is therefore based on a fear of failing. Living in constant fear of falling short or making a mistake, the perfectionist can live with high levels of anxiety and stress often leading to other mental health issue. Striving for perfection is simply not sustainable; it’s a completely subjective and abstract notion that defies the very meaning of being human.
The irony is, the underlying motive for most perfectionists is success which will ultimately lead to happiness (apparently). However, history would show that people who have achieved great success, are not in fact perfectionists but those who are comfortable enough to make mistakes. Take Steve Jobs for example, his life principals were based around two things, the power of positive thinking and allowing yourself to fail. “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life”. Steve Jobs 2005
Learning to let go doesn’t mean dropping your standards but rather, allowing yourself to embrace the opportunities and enlightenment that can come from making mistakes. It’s about disassociating perfection with self-worth; it need not define you.
If you are raising children, or even have grown up ones, the need to ‘let it go’ as the Ice Queen would chant, is even more important. Children model their behaviour and perception of the world based on their parents, teachers and carers. Demonstrating through words, actions and experiences, that it is okay to fail, will teach children to reach for the stars without a fear of falling.
Recognising that perfection won’t bring you happiness and showing yourself the compassion, you would to others who fall short, is the first step to your personal peace treaty. If you need help with personal strategies to emancipate yourself from perfection, visit our website to read about our team of experienced Clinical Psychologists who are committed to helping you flourish.