i think high personal standards are a good thing. We see the effects of low personal standards in entertainment, politics and places we work or interact. We would not accomplish much of anything if we did not have some sort of healthy criteria for living our lives.
Perfectionism, however, is a different matter. i am a perfectionist. i have a tendency to set the bar so high i can only achieve those goals with great difficulty, if at all. Almost was never good enough for me.
It was likely a combination of being told i was smart all my life and believing it. Of course, i am smart. Just ask me. And you may have gotten the “what did you do with the other 2%?” question when you showed a test with 98% scrawled at the top. Always go for 100%.
i was driven to do my best at everything. i excelled at any occupation. i graduated university on the dean’s list. My congregations grew well. i had no doubt, as a young adult, that i was handsome, smart and destined for success, whatever that was and wherever it might be. i did alright.
Age is a wonderful reality check and a major leveller. i am reminded of this fact as various parts of my anatomy complain bitterly about being asked to do things which would have been little problem a decade ago. I am no longer a hockey goaltender or a baseball catcher. In fact, i can no longer play most of the sports i loved so much. It is a sad thing when curling looks daunting. Cribbage for life, i suppose.
Sarah took me to a nudist resort down south once. It was one of those hedonism places, i think. It was a real eye-opening experience. For one thing, my body image improved. i was privileged to see every style, colour and size of humanity, and it was no prettier for them than for me. There is something liberating about talking to someone naked. Your big truck or wallet does not impress so much when you are in a group of naked people. Ask any Doukhobor.
Sarah will tell you she was surprised by my reaction. She knows i am not one for running around naked, even though i joke about it a lot. She thought i would balk and we would end up on the clothing side, which featured two couples dressed in traditional burkas, etc. i often wondered how they ended up there, but there you go.
Most people understand that none of us are perfect, right? i was never perfect, but i often thought so. So it made it difficult for me to accept criticism. i would get moody if i failed at something. Just ask any of my family about game night. i am proud of myself. i can now play games, have fun, and not pout if i lose. Someone about being an adult.
And it creates all kinds of tension for others who try to live in this atmosphere of perfectionism. It is a dark cloud, hiding just out of sight, always ready to rain on someone else’s parade.
i can’t be this way any longer. i have to change. For my sake and the sake of other people around me. So……..i have had a few experiences- tribulations and victories. Perhaps my learnings can be helpful to you as well.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. i am not so sure that the world changes, so much as our perceptions change as we age.
“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers. ATTRIBUTION: Attributed to SOCRATES by Plato, according to William L. Patty and Louise S. Johnson, Personality and Adjustment, p. 277 (1953).” Bartleby.com http://www.bartleby.com/73/195.html
Socrates. And you can find the same kind of complaints in every society throughout history. Young people have not changed. To expect young people to act like older people who have seen more of life is nuts. We just turn old and forget what little dicks we were at that age. Oh, you were so!
Try seeing things from another perspective
Don’t bother writing to me about how 911 jokes are terrible and insensitive.
The point, my friends, is that many of the things that cause us so much emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical pain…are small potatoes. i am sure you have heard of “first world problems”. You know. “i am so pissed that (insert place, person, organization) did (whatever) to me”…how dare they?
It is why one reason i stopped reading Facebook after about 7:00 pm. i found i would agonize over shit that did not really affect me. Difficult to sleep when “orange head” is doing something weirder than the last time. Sorry. Politics. My bad.
Is it small stuff, as the book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” implies? In case you do not know, the subtitle for the book is, “And it is all Small stuff”.
It is NOT all small stuff!!!! Found out i had cancer (not really). Small stuff? My wife left me. Small stuff? Don’t be stupid. Of course there is big stuff that demands various kinds of brain time and emotion.
Some of it is big stuff. It is stuff we ought to be concerned about. Jobs, family, and many other areas of life demand attention and intervention. There is so much we can put on a shelf. Really. Just daily living gives us plenty.
Don’t be so damn picky
This would be funnier if i were not the possible lecturer. i was a very fussy person about how things were done. i had expectations, damn it! But if you complain to your wife enough times about how the dishes are done, don’t be surprised if you end up doing personal inspection with your hands in the sink. Just saying. I finally mowed the lawn myself because no one did it well enough. With eight kids. Jeez.
Learn to compromise.
Compromise always implied a loss of integrity for me. Principles are important. Ok. Some principles are important. Whether the ketchup is kept in the cupboard or the fridge is not worth destroying relationships. You know what i mean. Compromise is healthy and implies a learning spirit.
C’mon. i know there is something to be said for a little healthy procrastination, but the perfectionist puts off doing things because they need to be done perfectly, not because it cannot be done well. This has always crippled me. i would read and re-read papers before handing them into the professors, searching for grammatical errors like an eagle searching for prey.
My attention to detail got me an opportunity to be a teacher’s aid. There is something satisfying about being a perfectionist with a red pen and a having licence to use it. Real 007 stuff. Mwahahahaha!
Please take it easy on yourself. Give things an honest effort, but also give yourself room to be human. It is so much easier on you and others. Trust me on this one. It is why i stopped writing. If it wasn’t perfect, it could not be published. And i would ask Sarah to do a proofread before i let it out into the world. Now i do a couple of quick reads, and that is it. If you think you deserve more commitment from me, let me know. The Teddy Bear also handles those letters.
One of the most important aspects for success in just about anything is reward. We do all kinds of things for reward. Our whole evolutionary system craves pleasure and reward. We are wired for it. It is our nature.
So when i do better at anything, including fighting my perfectionist tendencies, i reward myself. And i make sure i say it out loud. “Hey. You did a really good job there. Much better than before. You deserve…..
Out loud. Not a muffled voice deep within. A bold, proud voice that reinforces your positive behaviour. I DO THIS. If people are around or not. Course i’m nuts, but what do you have to lose?
Final thought and i am done for now.
Maybe you need this today.