Expecting yourself or others to be perfect is an unfortunate way of thinking that is absolutely crazy making! Perfectionists have unrealistic expectations of themselves or others. Putting these unrealistic expectations on others creates frustration, anger and sometimes depression if you turn them back on yourself.
Perfectionistic thinking often manifests as judgments and “shoulds.” When you hear yourself making a "should judgment," you can tell yourself, “That’s only my ego nagging me with a should!” Modify your unyielding, unrealistic expectations for others—those absolutist shoulds, absolutes, have tos, ought tos and musts and make them preferences and wishes instead. These ways of viewing the world definitely breaks into your peace of mind and happiness.
Often perfectionistic thinking is passed down as a family generational theme. Shame of not measuring up to the unrealistic standards of the parents is passed from generation to generation. Critical parental behavior produces shame-prone children who then criticize themselves and others. When a child’s essential needs for stability, attention, affection, approval and validation were shamed, any time later in life when a valid need comes up, he might drop back into these old feelings.
The child who lives with constant criticism learns to hide his vulnerable feelings and his failures when the parents have high expectations of behavior. He or she feels rejected if the parent humiliates and punishes him for crying. The child learns to reject all aspects of himself including the wonderful ones. The rejected child believes that he must be really bad or his parents would accept and love him. He can stop trying to succeed as he might fail and he can’t bear the uncomfortable feelings that accompany failure. To protect his already fragile self-esteem, he procrastinates or gives up before he starts.
Failure is a necessary part of learning. Learning to cope with failure is a positive social skill that is necessary for success! How we cope with being thwarted on a goal defines whether we become a loser or a learner. The moment of failure presents a Y in the road: in one direction blaming either self or others or the other, problem solving. Once when I goofed up in a big way my boss said, “Lynne, what do we do about this?” Failure presents the opportunity for learning, for change and increased self-esteem.
Perfectionistic thoughts are obsessive lies of the ego that do you in. They can be stopped dead in their tracks through self-talk and The Emotional Freedom Technique. Reprogram your mind to KNOW that errors are for learning! Stop and ponder these quotes from wise minds that reflect on the value of learning through failure and giving up old, perfectionistic beliefs:
“Failure is not the worst thing in the world; the very worst is not to try.”