The Perfectionist

Alright, folks, it’s time to write about another pattern that many humans fall into, The Perfectionist. This one is totally me, by the way, so I speak from experience. I’ve written about the Control Freak before, so please recall that the main point of these patterns is that they are not really you! I know that it seems otherwise for many people, but it really is just a pattern. It’s just that it’s been practiced for so long that it seems totally etched in stone. No pattern is etched in stone, though.

The perfectionist pattern can be particularly crippling because we can get easily stuck. If we think something has to be done perfectly, then we often don’t do anything at all. Why start something that’s not perfect? The truth, though, is that “perfect” as most people think of it doesn’t even exist. It’s just a concept. The only way that perfect exists is if we define it so that everything is perfect, just as it is right now at this very moment. Most people don’t mean anything close to this when they think of “perfect.”

So what should the perfectionist do when s/he is stuck? Start! Just do something. Get moving. See how bad a job you can do. After all, you can make it better later, and perfectionists are good at that. I have to bust myself on this all the time. Challenges for me include all this techno stuff, like figuring out the details of a blog, search engine optimization, Facebook, and other things that I’m not all that interested in. I’m interested in figuring out individual human peace and then helping others to learn it. That’s it! But when you want to earn a living doing that, there are many other aspects. Marketing is one of them – I’m not naturally very good at that, at least not now. So it’s easy for me to be stuck wondering what to do next. When that’s happening, I make myself do at least one thing. Like writing a blog post – that gets things moving. After that, there might be some momentum to do something else.

The perfectionist can show up in the form of being overly critical of self and others, too. This is when we want to take a breath before we speak and choose our words. Do I really want to say that? Should I dial it down a bit at least? What am I really trying to accomplish by saying this? If it’s just the perfectionist rearing its ugly head, then bust it! And laugh, thankful that you’re starting to wake up and challenge these old patterns. They’re just patterns, after all. And that’s good news. And like most of what we talk about here at A Clean Mind, it just takes practice. Just be consistent and persistent, and don’t take it too seriously. And as always, let me know if I can help.

UPDATE: After I posted this, my mom emailed me and said that I definitely came in this way. She said that I was like this literally as a baby still in the crib. My stuffed animals had to be all there and arranged the right way or it was hell to pay. I apologized… She said no worries, because clearly I was too young to have a choice. It was hard-wired. She said it was pretty funny, actually. This is why these patterns aren’t really that personal – we come in with many of them. There’s no choice in that, so it makes no sense to beat yourself up about it. Now, though, it’s up to us to bust ourselves still practicing these patterns and dial it back some. We end up being much more balanced. I work on this to this day. Interesting stuff…