The Irony of Perfectionism

The Irony of Perfectionism

Getting it Wrong to Get it Right-Do we really learn more from our mistakes?_
Read what the experts say about Perfectionism and the cost of being perfect._In previous blogs on perfectionism, we review that Perfectionism is linked to anxiety and physical health conditions.

It's bad for your health and relationships, so why are you still a perfectionist? 

American culture and social media continue to play a role in the idealization of perfectionism.  In general, educators measure success by accuracy more frequently than effort, supervisors push for increased productivity rather than creativity, and teens still hope for acceptance by conforming to social trends rather than individuality.  While the notion of individualism is trending, conformity still remains a powerful force in our society.

Perfectionism can originate from our individual personality and genetic make-up.  It is also believed to develop from early parenting where we were praised for “getting it right” and ignored or even shamed for “getting in wrong”. 

Perfectionists are frequently procrastinators, paralyzed to move forward without a perfect strategy or plan. Unable to take risks or try new things, the perfectionist is not likely to achieve their full potential.

Perfectionism is associated with chronic stress and anxiety, lack of motivation and confidence, and adversely affects physical health.  Perfectionists have increased risk for mental and physical health complications: a recent study revealed that perfectionists increased their risk of death by 51%.

Here’s the irony-countless research studies reveal that those who take risks and learn from mistakes are destined to learn more, retain more and perform better at all levels than the perfectionist!  So the perfectionist who is striving to be the best, with the highest standards for self, is the least likely to achieve the best results!  

Having more realistic expectations about life and the definition of success makes us more likely to achieve our potential. 

University based experiments with students focused on Learning, Memory and Cognition revealed, learning increases if conditions are designed for students to make errors. Students were ten percent more likely to remember information, or perform higher tests if conditions for testing were arranged to be more difficult on the first exam.  On the contrary, students given optimal study conditions who performed well on the first exam, scored significantly lower on the second try. 

The old saying, “we learn the most from our mistakes” is not just a feel better statement.

Learning to embrace the importance of failure or making mistakes is not an easy task. Try these tasks to get started:
1)  Be aware of a tendency toward perfectionism. 
2)  Take a personal inventory on how perfectionism has impacted your life, health or choices.
3)  Understand that anything learned can be unlearned: you have the power to retrain your thought patterns.
4)  Practice taking risks in areas you are probable to make a mistake.
Embrace the gift of imperfection: success is achieved by experiencing failure.

Learn to accept getting it wrong to get it right.

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