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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I wasnt sure where to post this, but figured its considered mental health, right?

Anyhow, my problem is that Im a perfectionist when it comes to some things. Its not that I mind being one, mostly because it allows me to know that I truly did do the best I could. However, after finishing an essay, which took me over 10 hours, and was written, rewritten, and then written again. I still think its a piece of crap, its not nearly good enough, and Im already freaking out that I may get a bad grade. I feel like submitting my exam without an essay, just because if it isnt perfect, then why bother even doing it at all? Its mostly all or nothing for me, there is no middle ground. My obsession over my grades is beginning to drain me mentally, emotionally, and I literally feel like screaming right now.

Has anyone experienced this and/or know how to become an un-perfectionist?
 

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Focus on the result
. Also, remembering that you're writing this essay for yourself (so that you will pass) and not for some outside authority, not your parents, nor your teachers, nor anyone else.

If you can do it for yourself then it is simply ambition
.

(That was my experience anyway, your situation might be different).
 

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I used to be a perfectionist in high school. I was driven to get the highest marks possible. I was constantly anxious. School was the only thing that mattered. I was also like this first year in university. Then second year my life took a complete turn when my boyfriend at the time was diagnosed with cancer. The marks just didn't seem as important. I've mellowed a lot and have learnt to appreciate life. I've got my priorities straight now. I still work really hard but to me it's worth getting an A- in stead of an A+ but being happy and having time for other things.
 

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Perfectionism is a dangerous trap. I have been one, and still fight the battle against it. However, I've learned to look outside of my own work/home/life, and see what I'm missing by being so incredibly focused on the seemingly important things - like did I make a typo on that letter I sent out, or did I research enough for that market analysis. What I have found is that it is important to remember is that we are all human, with frailties, and we all make mistakes. WE have the ability to forgive others for not being perfect, like our mates, our parents, our siblings, because we love them. So love and care for yourself, and forgive yourself for not being perfect and realize that you are not alone in this world. Be the best you that you can be, and remember, life is for living, not obsessing. It's ok to pat yourself on the back too!

You could spend 10 more hours on that essay, and at this point still not be satisfied with it, because your view of it is tainted. Back in the day, when I was in college, I sat down to an exam and wrote the shortest essay in a Political Theory class that I had to have to graduate. I got up, turned it in, walked out, and proceeded to kick my own butt for a week until the exam was retuned - I got the only A on the mid-term. Where am I going with this little story -- Trust yourself, relax, breathe.

As perfectionists, we are our own worst enemies.

That is my $.02
 

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Just found a typo in my post - oh well.....


So appropriate that I should do that when responding to a perfectionist thread.
 

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Yes - in fact my being such a perfectionist is why got out of the music field when I did. I actually got my masters in clarinet performance, but it was a miserable, miserable time for me because I could never measure up. My teacher was constantly criticizing my playing and it made me really critical of myself as well. It starting filtering into my everyday life. After I graduated, I sort of realized that I was chasing my tail and constantly striving for something that would never happen for me i.e. a perfect performance. I scaled back on my playing, started performing in more forgiving environments such as my church and started singing with the church choir. The more laid back environment and relaxed atmosphere caused me to ease up on myself a bit. Now when I play - of course I am trying to do well, but it isn't that frenzied "I must be perfect at all times in order to impress everyone who hears me" mindset that I had at school. I must say that it is much more enjoyable this way
 

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yes. this is probably part of my anorexia/OCD problems. In school, because I really had no friends, I was always in to doing good in school. Next year, though, will be better. I have "let go" of the feeling to be the most smart. I like being "in the top" but not THE top, it gives me a little leway to feel okay. I started thinking about my future and how making an 97 as opposed to a 94.5 isn't really something to worry about, even though some other students have a 97...(example)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I used my grades / "smarts" to get some "friends," in class, not that they were real friendships. That is, made it so that everyone wanted to be in my study group, and wanted to be on my team when playing games in History. However, now that I'm doing an internet based school, I find it hard to figure out why my obsession over grades and being the best is worsening, especially when I have no classmates to compare myself with, only a grade average, and a questionnaire I make my teachers fill out about how I rate to their other students.

Thanks for the replies everyone.
 

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I've been a perfectionist most of my life and still have difficulties accepting less than perfect work and behavior from myself and others, but I realized this stem from a control issue and have learned to let go. I now work on doing my best instead of trying to be perfect. If I do my best, then that has to be good enough, 'cause how can you do any better than your best? This approach takes a lot of pressure off of myself and others. Nothing's perfect. No one's perfect.

Now, those people who usually give less than their best still annoy me, but that's a different matter entirely.
 

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Another thing to think about is that most extraordinary things have their appeal in their imperfection. The "different" usually have their own brand of beauty, wouldn't you say? Variety is the spice
Anyway, sometimes "perfect," is boring and uncreative. I say, let it flow! Be as unique as you can -- set yourself apart and your professors will take notice, I assure you.

Of course, I don't mean grammar and punctuation: that should be perfect ;D.

And, I find that sometimes one can rewrite something to death. First, re-confirm what your objective is for this essay -- did you begin with an outline? If so, look back and see if you hit all the points you originally had in mind as your goal. If not, just read through and make sure you made all your points, checking for clarity also. Then go through a final time to check grammar/punctuation only.

Done.
 

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Oh, and to your last question, maybe you can start by letting go of small things. For example, if you are perfectionistic with cleanliness, I would say, leave the dishes overnight even though you would normally never do that. Tell yourself the sky won't begin falling if they sit there for 8 hours while you sleep. And continue to reassure yourself by talking to yourself in this way with other things you try. Small things like that might help to get you to let go of the compulsion to be perfect.

That's what I'd do anyway.
Good luck.
 

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Perfectionism leads us to focus on the outcome, to the exclusion of the journey. Life is not a goal, it is an experience, and when we worry too much about the end result, we forget to be present in the moment, to really live. We are always putting off our enjoyment, our awakening, for some other time, but there is no other time but now. So enjoy now!

This is not to say you shouldn't work hard, but try to enjoy the act of your work. It's good to want to do well, but also enjoy the act of writing, how good it is to be thinking creatively and coming up with solutions; the process of writing papers can be fulfilling if you do this. I mean, if you have to write the paper anyway, it's better to try to enjoy yourself while you do it, right?

Here's a story I read recently that may help:

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it and, while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master's house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily,with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master's house.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments,

perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you." "Why?" asked the bearer.

What are you ashamed of?" "I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said. The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path." Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot,"Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them.For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."

The Moral of this Story: Each of us has our own unique flaws. We're all cracked pots. But, it's the cracks and flaws we each have, that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You've just got to take each person for what they are, and look for the good in them. There is a lot of good out there.
 

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Hey, Yeah I am almost the same. I either try something and have to be the best at it or I completely give up on it and dont bother with it feeling completely worthless.

But what I have found is that you have to accept some things will be easy for you to accomplish while other things you will have to work at or take your time to become better at them.

I realized that some things are not worth getting upset over and nobody can ever be perfect but they can make themselves become better at things and improve themselves. Its good that you put your time and best effort in your work. And thats what matters. But rewriting and rewriting and essay over and over is unecessary. what you can do instead is write it once (a rough draft) and then look for your mistakes. Then hand it to a friend or someone to look for mistakes you may have missed and write your final essay. Thats good enough though. Try not to worry about the little things that dont matter as much.

hope i helped some
 

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Well, some of us could need a little perfectionism, I'm at the other end of the scale (I think. In some areas I'm scared of failing...), I'm a lazy slob, I do everything in the last minute, if I do it at all.... most of the time I'll not even try.... *sigh* ah well...
 

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My SIL is a perfectionist, and I've had a lot of opportunity to think about it lately. I see that it takes SO Much away from her life. She spends so much time on tiny things she can't move on from, and not a lot of time simply enjoying...or being out in the 'big scarey world' (second time I've used that phrase tonight). We went to supper the other night and my daughter spilled bubbles on her porch. An HOUR later, after she scrubbed and washed the porch to rid it of any potential stains, it was my daughter's bedtime and she hadn't even eaten supper yet. At first I was angry, and then I just felt sad for her. That porch was SO important that it canceled out any time she could have spent with family...even her own...her son. She's like this about many things. Christmas the tree didn't get decorated because she couldn't do it 'just right'. She spent all of Christmas eve up (until 4AM) because she had left things until the last minute...again, the pressure of 'doing it right.' She won't take help from others because they 'won't do it exactly right'.

She's really severe as far as I can tell, and I really think it takes a lot away from family gatherings. Yet all I really feel for her is compassion because the person she's hurting most is herself.

there are so many of these little obsessions that I think are all about fear and avoidance...and it pains me to see how many of us are willing to give up so much of our lives in this manner (including myself at one point...I still struggle with some things, but I'm doing better than I ever have before).

I'm in Montessori, and in Montessori they teach children to value the 'process' and not the product. That means you work hard, and well, and know when to say you're finished. It doesn't mean perfect every time. It just means you gave it your best.

B
 

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Ps, I learned so much from becoming an assistant in a montessori classroom. I am beginning to think that for those of us who didn't have this kind of education...we really should go back and repeat the 3-6 age range...to really learn about process instead of end product.

B
 
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