Perfectionism: flaw or virtue?


We all know that nobody’s perfect, right?

However, being a perfectionist is usually considered a virtue. A quality that reflects discipline, effort and even sacrifice on the work of those who consider themselves perfectionists.

This does not come without effort. Perfectionism is a character trait that involves the setting of extremely high standards for performance. When these (unattainable) standards are not achieved, a true perfectionist underestimates and harshly criticizes his or her efforts. And maybe even worse, does not even dare to show their work, project, idea, or whatever is in question.

In addition, perfectionists also tend to be too demanding of others. They expect their partner, family or coworkers to do things as they themselves would have done them.

Naturally, this does not happen. Each person has a rhythm and a way of doing certain things. I don’t know if that way is for better or for worse… but surely, it’s different. As a result, the perfectionist suffers. He suffers because of what it costs him to do things and because of what it costs him to see that others make those things in a diverse manner.

If only I had time to do everything …

That thought so often said by perfectionists has a second part, that perhaps many of them do not know: if I had time to do everything, I would not finish it anyway. The reason is obvious: nothing and nobody is perfect. And their own demand for doing things impeccably would prevent them from finishing what they’ve set out to do.

So, should we fight against perfectionism?

If you consider yourself a perfectionist and enjoy what you do, keep it that way. It may be another feature of your personality that you know how to take advantage of.

If, on the contrary, it causes you anguish, stress and obsessive thoughts, it is time that you begin to see perfectionism in a different light. It’s not a virtue to aspire to. It’s a way of trying to organize your inner world from the outside. And this can become emotionally exhausting.

Perfectionists deep down, on an unconscious level, believe that their ability to be loved or esteemed, even by themselves, depends on things coming out perfectly. But trying to succeed on their task of being perfect, only puts them at risk of getting into a negative spiral in which it will be increasingly difficult to start moving forward.

In the words of author Brené Brown:

Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.

Machines are already set to manufacture and package things with precision. Imperfection is the trace of the human. Of the unique. What’s more, we succeed more when we are imperfect, since we free ourselves from the great pressure of excelling.

We should not demand perfection from ourselves or from others. We have to let go of that illusion of control and let things flow with a certain balance.

Trying to do things the best we can (which does not equal perfect) is already quite honorable. There is no need to do things perfectly. Just do the best you can and learn a few lessons along the way.

Doing things imperfectly but good enough in exchange for peace of mind is a worthy and rewarding goal.