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Perfectionism

User Thread
 33yrs • F •
A CTL of 1 means that Attolia is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
Perfectionism
Why do some people try to be perfect in everything they do? Does their perfectionism annoy you? Is it possible to "cure" perfectionism (if you see it as a sickness)?

Are you a perfectionist? How did you become a perfectionist? What's the most far-fetched thing your perfectionism made you do? Do you see your perfectionism as an asset or a hazard?

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"How can we be just in a world without mercy and merciful in a world without justice?"
 37yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that Wyote is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
there is a thin line between simple perfectionism and neurotic obsessive compulsive disorder. my family has a history of people with OCD and although i have never been officially diagnosed, i am sure it is in me.

it is because of this that i have tried to stray away from perfectionism with little things each day. maybe ill put something where it doesnt "belong" or i will purposefully play a game instead of reading some "healthy habits of highly effective people" book. some days i will even force myself to go sit outside and just absorb my surroundings.

i understand perfectionists fairly well though.

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"A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge. - Thomas Carlyle"
 33yrs • F •
A CTL of 1 means that Attolia is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
I never saw my perfectionism as a problem until this year. I thought I was only trying to do my best.

Now, it's scaring me.

There are nights I can not sleep because something is bothering me. I will wake up in the middle of the night and look over a homework problem I couldn't do during the day.

No one ever told me that there was something wrong me. On the contrary, everyone I ever knew encouraged it in me. For example, my teachers always praised me in front of the class for being so determined.

I don't know why I do it. It's this hunger within me that never rests until it is satisfied. If I starve it, it abuses me. Whenever I fall short of my goal, I'm full of hate and guilt towards myself.

I was always like this. When I was three, I spent a half-hour trying to tie my hair properly and pulled my hair after each failed attempt.

The worst thing I can remember doing is staying up all night working on my science project. I didn't complete it on time the previous year. Everyone in school talked about how the smartest girl didn't have her project. Fueled by failure, I almost ruined my relationshops with my friends who were working on the project the next year with me because I wanted it to be perfect.

Do I need help?

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"How can we be just in a world without mercy and merciful in a world without justice?"
 33yrs • F •
A CTL of 1 means that Attolia is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
I can't hold this in any longer. Everyone should read this.

Perfectionists like me are very, very hard on themselves. There have been times when I abused myself psychologically because I didn't achieve my goals.

Perfectionists do not take criticism lightly. So if you're speaking to a perfectionist, watch your words, tone, and body language. Especially you parents. All I can say to you parents is back off.

If you parents knew that your child was a perfectionist, you would never say half the stuff you say to them (assuming you care about them). For us, you parents are so damn hard to please. When we do please you, we experience euphoria. It's like we finally achieved everything we ever wanted in life. But when you criticize your perfectionist child, you are abusing them.

I'll give you an example. Your child failed a test. He or she has been beating himself or herself about it for days. He/She has been very depressed and maybe even angry. The next test is in three days. Your child will leave every activity, including eating and sleeping, just to study for that test. One day, you walk into his or her room, which is a complete mess because your child has been too busy studying to pay attention to his or her room. You walk into the room when he or she is studying, get angry, and say something like, "You're so lazy. Clean your room. And come and help me with the chores. The only thing you ever do for this family is chores and now you're not even doing that because you've locked yourself into this room." Do you know what you have just done? You have taken a sharp cold knife and stabbed the very soul of your child. Every word you uttered is another cold long stab. "You (STAB) are (STAB) so (STAB) selfish (STAB) and (STAB) inconsiderate (STAB)." Your child is using every ounce of strength to keep a straight face and quiet manner while you are stabbing viciously.

Then you leave the room, thinking that your child never listens to you. By leaving the room, you have made a final cold stab, twisted the knife, and left it in its place. At this point, God, I don't even know how to describe it. Touch me and I will rage. I will break glass, pound the walls, scream, whatever. Give me one small push and I will lose it. I replay all of my parents' words over and over. 'You are so selfish. You are so selfish. You are so selfish. You are so selfish. You are so selfish. You are so selfish. You are so selfish. You are so selfish.' Over and over. I try to make sense of it. I start devising ways I can change in order to please my parents, or at least keep them quiet. Their words are now carved in the folds of my mind and remain there for years. Years. I can never forget them. Even if I do please my parents, the words echo back and forth in my mind. The knife may have fallen from the wound, but there is still a deep wound that never heals and becomes only a scar.

So you parents better watch everything you say to your perfectionist kids because we hear you better than you hear yourself. I am just sick and tired of being treated this way by my parents who both know that I'm a perfectionist but still feel welcome to speak in however their impulses make them speak thinking that I'll be able to handle it. Believe me, I don't need most of their criticisms because I already criticize myself. Just needed to get this off my shoulders.

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"How can we be just in a world without mercy and merciful in a world without justice?"
 63yrs • F •
ttmatt is new to Captain Cynic and has less than 15 posts. New members have certain restrictions and must fill in CAPTCHAs to use various parts of the site.
I'm a concerned parent of a 10 year old perfectionistic boy. I think you could help me understand what is going on. First, thank you for sharing your innermost feelings. It helps to see just how destructive words from a parent can be.

What is the best thing a parent can do help you? Do you think counseling works?

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 33yrs • F •
A CTL of 1 means that Attolia is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
Do you know why he feels a need to do things perfectly? Also, he won't do everything perfectly, only the things that matter. What are those things?

As for counseling, I would have no clue. Accepting myself with my strengths and weaknesses help me. My parents always reminded me to keep my goal and time limit in mind when taking on a task so I know how much effort to put into it.

It's funny reading my post from two years ago. I don't have those moments of frustration anymore. I'm glad.

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"How can we be just in a world without mercy and merciful in a world without justice?"
 65yrs • F •
A CTL of 1 means that Chiron is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
My view of Perfectionism is that it is a condition ruled by Fear and has Greed as its master. Freud referred to the condition as being ‘anal' and therefore being reluctant to just ‘let things go'. But rather than belonging to individuals with high ideals, it is endemic in this highly competitive world we all live in.

Greed, and the need to have and be more and more. To be better than, richer, thinner, better looking, more talented, more intelligent, more powerful, more popular, more successful, more privileged, and ultimately more loved than your fellows. Greed is the hidden driving force behind most Perfectionists lives.

We all need to be loved and this need is the starting point that Greed feeds upon. Even newborn babies that don't know squat about anything wont thrive unless they actively receive love. The fear arises when we receive messages that we may not be found worthy of that love, unless…

Hence the role of Fear as powerful motivation to become more and more Perfect (and thus be more worthy of love, which is really powerful).

If people didn't feel deprived of love, they would feel more acceptable in themselves, be happier, and become less competitive on a petty level.

Of course Perfectionism, Greed, and Fear are all tremendous manipulators of a mass public work force. Why else do people work later hours and weekends, and work in jobs they hate?

And the only possible antidote is Love, and most people are very stingy with this. But it has to be the genuine article and not the hallmark version.


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 33yrs • F •
A CTL of 1 means that Attolia is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
I don't know about other perfectionists, but I starting exhibiting perfectionist behavior even before I started school. I always wanted to do a neat job with everything I did. Other kids would color outside the lines while I would color in the lines. I did it because I could and it look nicer that way to me. Was it greed or ambition that drove me? Was it a fear of criticism and judgment? Was it my parents who taught me to always do a good job and keep high standards? It's a little bit of each, but what is the main reason I turned perfectionist? I was never deprived of love.

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"How can we be just in a world without mercy and merciful in a world without justice?"
 65yrs • F •
A CTL of 1 means that Chiron is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
Attolia, may I ask if you were aware of how you felt about yourself as a young (perfectionist) child?

Did you love yourself?
And did you feel 100% acceptable to others, or were you trying to conform when you choose to color inside the lines for example?

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 33yrs • F •
A CTL of 1 means that Attolia is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
I did not hate myself and thought I was a good person. Just like any other kid, I wanted to be acceptable, but I liked to live more by my own standards, which were higher than other kids'. This led to my falling out of some groups in school, but I did not change my ways.

My case may have more to do with my ambition than my fears of failing or being outcast. When I got lower marks on exams, I felt that I had disappointed myself because I could have done better.

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"How can we be just in a world without mercy and merciful in a world without justice?"
 65yrs • F •
A CTL of 1 means that Chiron is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
Perfectionists rarely hate themselves unless... they fall short of the mark. And then they beat themselves up badly sometimes even resorting to self abuse.

This is not self love its conditional love, which is withheld unless a person is deemed worthy. Therefore it is highly manipulative and it breeds ambition because it is so hungry.

But no matter how hard a person drives themselves, it can never deliver the real thing. Because no matter what one achieves in life, without love it is worth nothing.

That's not to say that as a kid you or anyone else was filled with greed, fear, and manipulation, but that such things tend to grow in the shadows when there is an underlying lack of love.

Perfectionism is a very hungry and needy condition because perfectionists lack self love.

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 33yrs • F •
A CTL of 1 means that Attolia is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
I never thought of it in that way. It did feel conditional to some extent. I would hold negative feelings if I failed until the next time I met my standards again.

Everyone has standards placed on them by our social groups and wants to live up to them. Failure to meet these standards can cause disappointment in anyone. What makes the perfectionist child any different? I agree with Wyote when he said that it borders on obsession and fixation. But what makes one child obsessed and the other not?


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"How can we be just in a world without mercy and merciful in a world without justice?"
 33yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that Jacker_Jones is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
Perfectionists are people who are afraid of what other people may think about them. They do things perfectly because something perfect cannot be judged and hence they cannot be judged. This probably doesn't apply to all perfectionists but from my experience it applies to most.

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"I love to see people struggling for their purpose in life..."
 65yrs • F •
A CTL of 1 means that Chiron is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
quote:
Everyone has standards placed on them by our social groups and wants to live up to them. Failure to meet these standards can cause disappointment in anyone.
What makes the perfectionist child any different?


True, but living up to such standards and having ideals and goals is not the problem here. And the disappointment one feels then is not much more than a learning tool used to guide one in the right direction.

What makes the perfectionist child different from another is an internalized self-cruelty resulting from the Self deeming itself unworthy of love.

Therefore that part of you which wrote about the persecution by your parents who said things that demanded more perfection even though you knew you were already doing your very best, was in fact you own true voice that needed a hearing in the midst of much self-abuse.

And though it may have felt like a problem about demanding parents, in reality it was you speaking out in rebellion to vitriolic self-abuse.
Perfectionists generally project these things onto others because (in the pursuit of perfectionism) they are ashamed to admit to this kind of cruelty as it admits to a serious flaw. And by concealment they ‘allow' themselves to continue down that manipulative path of self-abuse.


quote:
But what makes one child obsessed and the other not?


The degree of self-acceptance and self-love is what makes one child become obsessed or not. Denial of love in a child is a terrible thing, and once internalized becomes very difficult because they are absolute tyrants to deal with.

And the question of whom to blame for this is completely beside the point, although admittedly we do live in a world that encourages this trait as it provides a viable market force.

Abuse and cruelty are easy, and one needs to work very hard at genuine self-love because in most cases people have no idea what that should feel like. It's easy to attack and abuse while it takes far greater courage to love.

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 38yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that CodeWarrior is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
You forget there is another rode to perfectionism. Misery. The feeling that there is something wrong with the world, to quote morphious 'like a splinter in your mind driving you mad.' But no one will listen to a kid, no one will help. So you have to be your own help. You have to be strong enough, smart enough, fast enough, to take on the world on your own, to grab it like a lump of clay and make it change.

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Perfectionism
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