Perfectionism: It’s not that ‘Perfect’

Perfectionism: It’s not that ‘Perfect’ perfectionism: it’s not that ‘perfect’
Photo by Tamara Gak on Unsplash

In life, we all wear masks — not the kind you find at masquerade parties, but invisible ones that hide parts of ourselves we think are imperfect or unacceptable. While narcissists may wear masks that reveal their manipulative personalities, the rest of us also don societally-accepted masks. These masks are like different sides of our personality that we show to the world, carefully constructed to seek approval, admiration, or protection.

One such mask that many of us wear, often without even realizing it, is the mask of perfectionism. It’s like a captivating illusion that makes us appear flawless and accomplished. People around us admire those who seem to have everything under control, as if they are shining examples of success. But behind this seemingly perfect exterior, there’s a complex web of feelings like anxiety and self-doubt.

Perfectionism is often regarded as a desirable trait, associated with individuals who appear to have everything in their lives meticulously organized and under control. From the outside, they seem to possess exemplary achievements, immaculate appearances, and a remarkable ability to excel in various endeavors.

In this article, we will explore the true nature of perfectionism, why it displays perfect on the surface but not on the inside, and the reasons why it often draws toxic connections.

The Perfectionist’s Dilemma

Perfectionism can be defined as the relentless pursuit of flawlessness and the inability to accept anything less than the ideal. Those who identify as perfectionists set high standards for themselves, striving to achieve impeccability in every aspect of their lives.

This unyielding pursuit of perfection can be both a blessing and a curse.

On the outside, perfectionists may appear incredibly accomplished, admired, and respected. They excel academically, perform exceptionally at work, maintain pristine appearances, and often appear in control.

However, beneath that immaculate exterior, they might be silently struggling to keep it all together, wrestling with their own inner challenges that remain hidden from our view. The mask of perfection they wear might obscure the reality of their internal battles, leaving us unaware of the vulnerability they face.

The perfectionist’s dilemma lies in their strong inclination towards achieving perfection in every endeavor, which can paradoxically cripple them from making progress. The fear of failure and the pressure to meet unrealistic standards may lead to inaction or procrastination, preventing them from fully realizing their goals and potential. As they strive relentlessly for flawlessness, they may become trapped in a cycle of self-doubt and hesitation, hindering their personal growth and accomplishments.

Also, their achievements may never satisfy them, as they constantly feel the need to surpass their own high expectations.

The Hidden Struggles of Perfectionism

The hidden struggle of perfectionism lies in the constant battle perfectionists face within themselves. On the surface, they may appear driven, accomplished, and put-together, but beneath that facade, they grapple with overwhelming self-criticism, anxiety, and an insatiable fear of failure. The relentless pursuit of flawlessness can take a toll on their mental and emotional well-being, leading to stress, burnout, and a diminished sense of self-worth.

Despite the outward appearance of perfection, they often feel inadequate and constantly seek external validation, perpetuating a cycle of never feeling “good enough.”

This internal struggle can isolate them from seeking support or showing vulnerability, making it challenging to form genuine connections with others who could offer understanding and empathy.

The pursuit of perfection becomes a burden, robbing them of the freedom to embrace their imperfections and experience the joys of life without constantly striving for an unattainable ideal.

What Causes Perfectionism?

Perfectionism is a learned behavior often rooted in a complex interplay of factors and the golden child syndrome can play a significant role in its development. As the golden child in a family, you might have received excessive praise, attention, and high expectations, leading you to believe that your worth is solely tied to achieving excellence.

Growing up in such an environment, you may have internalized the idea that perfection is the only way to receive love and validation. This deeply ingrained belief system becomes the driving force behind your perfectionist tendencies as you constantly strive to meet unattainable standards to gain approval and maintain your favored position.

Additionally, societal pressures and comparisons to others can further reinforce the pursuit of perfection. Over time, this inner belief system becomes a central aspect of your identity, shaping your behavior and decisions, even if it means sacrificing your well-being and authentic self-expression.

Perfectionists and Attracting Toxic Relationships

So, you may think to yourself, “How can a perfectionist attract a toxic relationship when they seem to have things under control or in ‘order’?”

However, the answer lies in the concept of “inner dis-order attracts inner dis-order.” While perfectionists may project an image of flawless competence, their internal struggles and insecurities can create a vulnerability that draws toxic partners seeking to exploit this weakness.

Perfectionists’ relentless pursuit of flawlessness often masks deep-seated insecurities and a fear of not being good enough. This internal dis-order creates a void that toxic individuals are quick to identify and prey upon during the initial stages of the relationship.

Toxic partners may use love bombing techniques, showering the perfectionist with excessive praise, admiration, and affection, to fuel their need for external validation.

In this manner, the perfectionist’s inner dis-order of seeking constant approval becomes enmeshed with the toxic partner’s disordered tactics of manipulation and control. The toxic partner may gradually erode the perfectionist’s self-esteem and sense of agency, making it increasingly challenging for them to break free from the toxic relationship.

Breaking Free from the Cycle

Breaking the cycle of perfectionism begins with recognizing that it’s okay not to be perfect. Embracing our imperfections and acknowledging our inner struggles are essential steps towards healing and growth. Instead of constantly seeking external validation or worrying about others’ opinions, we must turn our attention inwards and identify the areas where we feel vulnerable or “aching.”

The fact that perfectionism is a learned behavior gives us hope, as it means we can unlearn it by challenging the negative beliefs that hinder our authenticity. By recognizing and questioning the unrealistic standards we’ve internalized, we open the door to embracing our imperfections and developing self-compassion. Through this process of unlearning, we can liberate ourselves from the shackles of perfectionism and reclaim our true, authentic selves.

By addressing these emotional wounds, we can foster self-compassion and develop a deeper understanding of ourselves. Letting go of the need for perfection allows us to release the burden of constantly striving for an unattainable ideal, leading to greater self-acceptance and genuine connections with others.

Remember, it is in our imperfections that we find our true strength and authenticity, making us more resilient and capable of navigating life’s challenges with grace and self-assurance.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these subconscious patterns for good (in less than 2 months) using Mind Shifting, then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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