Rachel Brandwene, LCSW
Perfectionism Is Not The Same As Excellence
Perfectionism is often seen as a desirable trait. We often hear people say "I'm a perfectionist" with pride, as if it's something to aspire to. However, perfectionism is not the same as excellence. In fact, the pursuit of excellence can be healthy and fulfilling when it's grounded in self-compassion and a sense of purpose.
Perfectionism, on the other hand, is a form of self-sabotage that can lead to stress, anxiety, and burnout. It's rooted in a fear of failure or rejection, and can create unrealistic expectations for ourselves and others. When we're in a state of perfectionism, we're often hyper-critical of ourselves and others, and may struggle with feelings of self-doubt and low self-esteem.
But why is it so easy to confuse perfectionism with excellence? For one, our society often glorifies achievement and success at all costs, without regard for our mental and emotional wellbeing. We're taught to push ourselves to the limit, to strive for the top, to always be the best.
True excellence is not about being the best. It's about doing our best, with a sense of purpose and compassion. When we strive for excellence, we're not trying to be perfect. We're trying to grow and improve, to learn from our mistakes and failures, and to make a positive impact in the world.
So how do we differentiate between perfectionism and excellence? And how do we cultivate a sense of excellence that's grounded in self-compassion and purpose?
Here are a few tips to get started:
Recognize the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism.
Healthy striving involves setting goals and working towards them with a sense of purpose and commitment. It's about doing our best, and being willing to learn from our mistakes and failures. Perfectionism, on the other hand, involves setting unrealistic standards for ourselves and others, and can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety.
Self-compassion involves treating ourselves with kindness and understanding, rather than harsh judgment and criticism. It's about recognizing that we're all human, and that it's okay to make mistakes and experience setbacks. When we practice self-compassion, we're more likely to approach our goals with a sense of curiosity and openness, rather than fear and self-doubt.
Find a sense of purpose.
Excellence is not just about achieving a certain outcome. It's about doing work that aligns with our values and contributes to something greater than ourselves. When we have a sense of purpose, we're more likely to approach our work with enthusiasm and dedication, and to see setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning.
Perfectionism is rooted in a fear of imperfection. However, imperfection is a natural part of the human experience. When we embrace our imperfections, we're more likely to approach our work with a sense of humor and humility, and to be more compassionate towards ourselves and others.
Breaking free from perfectionism and cultivating a sense of excellence is not easy. It can be helpful to seek support from others, whether it's through therapy, coaching, or a supportive community of friends and family. Having people who believe in us and support us can make all the difference.
Perfectionism is a form of self-sabotage that can lead to stress and anxiety, while excellence is about doing our best with a sense of purpose and compassion. By recognizing the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism, practicing self-compassion, finding a sense of purpose, embracing imperfection, and seeking support, we can cultivate a sense of excellence that is grounded in authenticity and fulfillment. It's not about being perfect, but about growing, learning, and making a positive impact in the world!
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