Perfectionism

On Sunday I went to a fair in Milford and had my palm read. The lady who did it was actually very good. She said that I am a perfectionist. Strangely enough I had heard this same comment while working with Ana Barner, a Voice Dialogue facilitator, a few weeks ago. Before then I never considered myself a perfectionist.

So I looked it up and have to admit that in some ways I am a perfectionist. I do aspire to being a perfect yogi. There is nothing wrong with aiming for perfection when it is done consciously. The problem is when perfectionism is unconscious and is an imbalance in the personality.

For example, appropriate perfectionism would be, “I am aiming for an A in my exams. I am working hard for it, but if I don’t get it then it won’t be the end of the world.” Imbalanced perfectionism would be, “I must get an A in my exams. If I don’t get an A then what is pointing in continuing my studies? People who get B passes are stupid and lazy.”

Imbalanced perfectionism is indicative of a disowned self – ie the opposite quality in us is repressed. The opposite character to the perfectionist is someone who doesn’t mind imperfection. Someone who is at ease with imperfection may appear as easy-going, unaware, lazy or slobish depending upon what the standard of perfection is applied to.

Someone who embodies our disowned selves is likely to annoy us, because they represent something that we don’t like about ourselves. Someone who is a perfectionist in the use of the English language may be highly irritated by a spelling misteak and have alot of judgement and criticism towards these people. These unhappy feelings are unnecessary.

One of the interesting things about disowned selves is how they show up in our lives. Subconsciously we attract them into our lives to be integrated. The more polarised we are in one direction, the more powerful the other direction will appear in our lives. The higher the peak of a wave, the lower the trough, and they always exist side by side. Our disowned selves often appear in the people who are close to us.

The trick is flexibility. If we are flexible and aware of our perfectionism, then we know when it is appropriate and when it isn’t. When our inflexible attitude generates anger, intolerance, frustration and other unhappy feelings, then we know that we have parts within us that need addressing.

I recommend Voice Dialogue by Drs Hal and Sidra Stone for getting unstuck from happiness-killing habits like perfectionism and also the Demartini Method by Dr. John Demartini.

Here is a perfectionism test. You can take it online here.

1. In general, the prospect of making a mistake angers me.
– Completely true
– Mostly true
– Somewhat true/ somewhat false
– Mostly false
– Completely false

2. I am frequently disappointed in my mate/friends/kids/co-workers. – Completely true
– Mostly true
– Somewhat true/ somewhat false
– Mostly false
– Completely false

3. I get impatient with people around me – they always screw up in one way or another.
– Completely true
– Mostly true
– Somewhat true/ somewhat false
– Mostly false
– Completely false

4. It seems that my mate (or friends, if you’ve never had a partner) always falls short of satisfying me. S/he always misses the little details and nothing is done just right.
– Completely true
– Mostly true
– Somewhat true/ somewhat false
– Mostly false
– Completely false

5. If I make a mistake, others will think that I am incapable.
– Completely true
– Mostly true
– Somewhat true/ somewhat false
– Mostly false
– Completely false

6. I believe that if I do things badly, others will reject me.
– Completely true
– Mostly true
– Somewhat true/ somewhat false
– Mostly false
– Completely false

7. My partner is likely to reject me at some point unless I am better (smarter, better looking, etc.) than any other potential mate.
– Completely true
– Mostly true
– Somewhat true/ somewhat false
– Mostly false
– Completely false

8. With most tasks, I feel that there is a “right” way and a “wrong” way to do them and I am not comfortable with alternative ways of getting them done.
– Completely true
– Mostly true
– Somewhat true/ somewhat false
– Mostly false
– Completely false

9. I have been told by people around me that I focus on the problems in life and, even if everything is okay, I will always find something that bothers me.
– Completely true
– Mostly true
– Somewhat true/ somewhat false
– Mostly false
– Completely false

10. I would rather work harder and do things myself then delegate tasks to other people.
– Completely true
– Mostly true
– Somewhat true/ somewhat false
– Mostly false
– Completely false

11. Being ‘average’ is a terrible thought for me.
– Completely true
– Mostly true
– Somewhat true/ somewhat false
– Mostly false
– Completely false

12. I usually/often/sometimes/rarely/never feel that my loved ones are focusing on my imperfections.

13. I usually/often/sometimes/rarely/never find that I am angry with myself because I cannot tackle all that I need/want to do (household renovations, weed the garden, clean the car, further my education, etc.).

14. You are taking a class in which your work is typically excellent. The teacher has repeatedly commented on the quality of your work. For one of the smaller projects, you receive above average (but not exceptional) results. The comment from the teacher is a straightforward, “good work”. How do you most likely feel?

– Upset or angry with myself for not having done better work
– Upset or angry with the teacher for not recognizing my excellent efforts
– Slightly disappointed that I didn’t excel this time
– Satisfied that I did well enough
– Very disappointed in myself
– Totally elated with my efforts and the praise

15. When my plans don’t go as I envision, I
– get extremely stressed out.
– get very stressed out.
– get somewhat stressed out.
– get a little bit stressed out.
– don’t experience any stress reaction.

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