Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.
— William Faulkner, US novelist (1897 – 1962)
In job interviews (a long, long time ago!), when I was asked about my weaknesses, one of my standard answers was “I’m a bit of a perfectionist”, as I felt this was almost a good attribute of my personality. But is it really? I didn’t know it at that time yet, but labelling myself a perfectionist turned out to be truer than what I initially thought it meant.
I initially thought perfection was the ultimate state to strive for. Just like the idiom, “If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” And for me by doing well, meant really doing well. But I was very wrong as we’ll discover in this book.
To be perfect, to be flawless and not make mistakes is the greatest and highest achievement in life.
I got it so wrong.
Years of schooling, familial and social conditioning and expectations inadvertently taught me that high achievement led to ‘success’ and anything else other than the perfect result equated to ‘failure’. Perfectionism is deceptively a self defeating and limiting mindset. This book is a culmination of four years of personal reflection and research that documents my observations as well as techniques that I tried and tested to climb out of my dark places.
I’m thankful for meeting a clinical psychologist who diagnosed me as a perfectionist. I had been lost for a few decades. I was the individual that fell through the cracks; misdiagnosed as bipolar I was never warned or told by anyone that my behaviour was a candidate for the perfectionism label.
Being a perfectionist and having been that label helped me work at becoming a functional member of society once again. The irony for perfectionists is when they realise that the ‘perfect’ lives of people who aren’t perfect are in fact the reason for their happy, healthy and productive lives.
Phases of Perfectionism
The book has four main sections:
- ‘The Definition of a Perfectionist’ which talks about the clinical definitions, healthy and unhealthy perfectionism, symptoms, causes and consequences.
- In the Midst of it All (The Aftermath)’ discusses depression, the critical inner voice, addiction and thoughts of escapism such as suicide.
- The Fall (Downward Spiral)’ describes the journey from perfectionism to depression, explores the symptoms in depth and procrastination.
- Climbing Back to Recovery (Reality)’ explains the various strategies I tried and tested to help me recover from depression and extreme perfectionism.
Here is a preview of some concepts discussed in the book:
- What is the Hedonic Treadmill and how does it relate to perfectionism?
- How your procrastination could be a sign of perfectionism.
- An exploration of coping strategies from problem focused and emotional focused coping.
- How to use mindfulness and meditation to manage your perfectionism.
- How to deal with yourself talk or your critical inner voice.
- How to set realistic expectations and goals.
- How daily routines and daily rituals can help you.
- What is the real meaning of being a perfectionist?
- Examples of perfectionism in day to day life
- Perfectionist traits and symptoms
- How to overcome perfectionism, perfectionism treatment
- Is there are perfectionism cure?
- And more!
“Overcoming Perfectionism” is available for purchase on Amazon Kindle or as a Paperback.