Dangerous perfectionism, or Why it’s bad to be a perfectionist

Why you shouldn't be a perfectionist

At first glance, perfectionism - the desire for perfection - is a wonderful quality (the word comes from the Latin perfectus - “perfect”). People who are perfectionists, no matter what they undertake, try to do everything flawlessly, perfectly. They are unusually demanding of themselves. A.P. Chekhov, in the words of one of his heroes, said: “Everything in a person should be beautiful: face, clothes, soul, and thoughts.” And this is exactly what perfectionists strive for.

However, their desire to do everything perfectly extends not only to themselves - they also demand the same from those around them: from husbands or wives, children, friends, parents, employees, if they work in a team or have subordinates.

It would seem, what would we do without perfectionists? They should be appreciated because they stimulate and motivate us to achieve high results. But actually it is not.

Who is a perfectionist?

A perfectionist is a person who strives for absolute perfection in everything. He takes every mistake extremely painfully and strives to do everything flawlessly. A perfectionist equates work that is not completed perfectly with unfinished work, and he is more afraid of mistakes than of missed deadlines, so delays are a normal occurrence for him.

The painful desire for perfection is also called the “excellent student syndrome,” meaning that it is inherent in a person from school. A student, accustomed to being an excellent student, is afraid of getting a grade below the maximum , since his parents may punish him for such a “failure.” This fear of mistakes and failures can last a lifetime.

A perfectionist is responsible for the quality of work, pays great attention to detail and carefully double-checks everything, trying to eliminate the possibility of error. spends much more time completing the work than he should, and the achieved increase in quality usually does not compensate for the excess labor costs.

Even after completing the job almost perfectly, a perfectionist often remains dissatisfied. He does not do himself any favors, even when he sees that others are doing clearly worse. He is characterized by the approach “If it needs to be done well, do it yourself!”, so he does not expect too much from others.

As a rule, perfectionists are talented and diligent enough to do complex work well. Over the years, they have honed the tendency to do everything perfectly, and this manifests itself in their main activity. For example, perfectionists make excellent surgeons because they are successful in areas where the quality of the result is the main priority.

What is the difference between a perfectionist and a pedant?

What is the difference? The differences are quite significant. And now you will understand why using examples.

  • Pedantry is based on precise, minute adherence to rules and regulations. Perfectionism allows you to break the rules if the ideal result requires it. The goal of a pedant is not to do everything perfectly. Example. At work, you are given a task: to do this and that. The pedant doesn’t care what the result will be. The main thing is that: a) the work is completed, b) all requirements and instructions are followed. It doesn't matter what the outcome is. This leads to the second difference.
  • The pedant mainly takes on small tasks. Since they are strictly regulated, it is much easier to follow the rules. Patients prone to perfectionism take on large-scale tasks that are not always defined by rules. And they strive to make them the best they can.
  • Pedants are conservative. They strive to do everything according to established rules. To guarantee results. People with perfectionism tend to act effectively and strive for growth and development.
  • Finally, pedants meticulously perform even trivial things. Pencils lying unevenly, a painting hanging crookedly. All this is a real challenge for a pedant. A perfectionist does not suffer from this problem.

It is clear that both have problems. But pedantry is largely the core of personality. And perfectionism is a trait that can be corrected.

How did the term come about?

In psychology, perfectionism began to be studied in the 19th century, but long before that, this term appeared in philosophy. Let us note that psychologists and philosophers have different understandings of what a perfectionist is. From a philosophical point of view, this is an ideal that every person should strive for. Proponents of perfectionism were Kant, Leibniz and many other philosophers.

Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting “The Vitruvian Man” (1492) is also a manifestation of perfectionism, since in it the scientist depicted the ideal proportions of the human body.

The terms “perfectionism” and “perfectionist” are derived from the English word perfection, meaning “perfection” or “improvement.” Initially they were used in philosophy with a positive connotation. In psychology, perfectionism is considered as a feature of the psyche that potentially reduces a person’s quality of life.

The height of persistence: typing the wrong password until the computer agrees!

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