Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Lies Perfectionism Tells You

I picked up a copy of psychology today a couple weeks ago because it had an article that piqued my interest.  The cover article was titled, When Virtue Becomes Vice (you can read the whole article online).  Initially I thought, okay this is going to be something dumb about how being nice is overrated etc.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that's not what it was about at all.  

One particular part of the article really struck a chord with me.  The flipside of being a perfectionist is nothing will ever be good enough.  You will never be happy with your work.  You will also likely become a huge procrastinator.  

The danger in perfectionism is that it's something we see as a virtue.  "Oh, they're a perfectionist so they will strive harder to better themselves."  When we hear the word perfectionist we typically think things like, hard worker, good work, excellence.  

The truth of the matter is being a perfectionist is essentially shooting yourself in the foot.  This is something I've had to learn the hard way.  I always felt like being a perfectionist when it came to myself and my work was a good thing.  It meant I wanted perfection.  The problem lies in the truth that no one is perfect.  I find myself putting things off and being overwhelmed by them more often than not because I get hung up on being "perfect".  If I can't do it perfectly then I don't want to do it.  If the process doesn't go smoothly then it really upsets me.  

An excellent point brought up in the article is how in the end it does not matter if the process is perfect.  What matters most is the result of the process.
Perfectionism is a trap.  You wind yourself up when the process or result isn't perfect even if it's still wonderful.  

A prime example of this was my initial struggle with figuring out how to do clay transfers.  

Pictured first real success after about ten or so failures

It took me a lot of tries before I got a process down that worked.  It is especially frustrating with limited energy and chronic pain.  When you have a very finite amount of energy it's deeply frustrating to feel like it was wasted.  Learning the lesson that failures lead to understanding and success has been a really important lesson for me.  

Pictured several failures 

I asked the advice of a couple of people and got some answers that were helpful.  I usually have a rough time asking for help or accepting constructive criticism.  I finally set it aside for this project though.  I got some advice that helped me improve my process and finally get some consistent success! 

Success!  :D

I learned a lot from this particular project.  That while failure is indeed frustrating I can't let it stop me from trying again.  No one ever starts off perfect with anything.  We start with scribbles an work our way up.  Being kind to others comes easy for me but being kind to myself has always been harder.  My new phrase I repeat to myself whenever I find myself feeling down about my work or wanting to procrastinate is, "Strive for excellence not perfection."  I have also had to learn that if I push myself too hard and get too worn out my quality goes down the drain.  I've had to give myself permission to do things in smaller batches so I don't sacrifice the quality and that's okay.  

Process pics!  -  

                                                                       FINAL!  :D

I still struggle a lot.  There are still times I get very down on myself.  This is an important lesson so I'm going to keep going.  Hope you enjoyed this post!  <3  :D  


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