Perfectionism: Can’t Cope with Failure?

October 6, 2018

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Failure is an unpleasant yet normal experience in life. For some it can feel as if it is the end of the world. The reason for such despair usually stems from perfectionist tendencies: seeing things in black or white; things are either perfect or terrible.

A collage featuring a heart with a start in the forgeground and an open eye within the star.

“Wisdom” by Bodhi Simpson

These individuals may not try “risky” new things, making themselves more prone to depression and giving up. Perfectionism also leads to a lot of anxiety which can preclude productivity. Achieving anything less than what is seen as perfect can lead to great emotional pain and lowered self-esteem. Feelings of despair can be so intense that it can make one think he or she cannot possibly recover from the pain experienced from a relatively minor mistake. As perfectionism comes with unrealistic goals, it can make people feel as if they are always failures no matter how hard they try or not as good as they would like themselves to be.

Therapy can help them identify these hard-to-achieve goals, and help them replace them with more achievable goals. It will rewire the irrational ideas of perfectionism and teach coping strategies to deal with them.

“I hope in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, you are doing something.” (Neil Gaiman)

Always remember that challenges, mistakes and failures can come at all levels in life. What counts is that you did your best and didn’t give up! So next time you make a mistake, forgive yourself and give yourself a big, warm hug!


2 comments:

  1. Bernard S. Siegel, MD

    October 6, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    Yes, when I offered cancer patients a chance to live a longer, better life by joining groups I was planning to run. Only 12 women out of 100 invited guests joined. Too many were afraid they would fail.

    Reply
  2. Cathy Stubbs

    October 9, 2018 at 11:58 am

    I find that perfectionism is a bar the individual sets early in life in order to be safe, secure and ‘okay’ in life. It speaks of a need to earn approval and love from others and from oneself, and the fear of how others will judge them. Having been in that position and having healed I now see my mis-takes as showing me something about myself and my effort, something to learn from. Show me, teach me and I can make a new choice.

    Reply

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