Perfectionism is a painful way to live. It is a cage that takes away freedom; it is a load of bricks on the back that reduces performance. A perfectionist is critical of everyone. Nothing is ever good enough, especially one’s own performance. When perfectionists win, to them it feels like a loss anyway. “I could have done better,” they tell themselves.
It is a painful way to live—or to live close to—but it does not have to be that way. Dr. Rich Walters, experienced therapist and author of The Perfectionism Trap and How to Escape, explains clearly how you can exchange the burden of perfectionism for the joys of excellence.
This course prepares you to change what you need to change. To swap the agony of over-reach for the joy of grasping success. The course combines video mini-lectures (you gain knowledge) with activities to improve your own circumstances (these help you use the knowledge) . Along with the video coaching, you will invest some time to think and plan. The potential payback is great; it is worth doing it well.
Perfectionism looks good but it is deceptive. Do not be fooled! This lecture will help you understand the benefits (that are more illusion than real) and costs (that are often disguised) of perfectionism.
Here you can learn about the damage that perfectionism can do to you--the "Three Big Hurts." This is emphasized because perfectionism has a lot of "smoke and mirrors" about it. It is more likely to bring success to someone else (a boss, parent, or spouse) than to the perfectionist who ends up burned out from all the hard work while the other enjoy the benefits. This must be recognized so there can be change.
This is a brief but important preview of where this course, and your journey of change, is headed. Proceed with clear thinking, and open mind, and confidence.
Give careful thought to this process. You will learn a lot about yourself as you think it through. Let the subconscious processes of your mind work on this. Do not rush the process; it is not a task to be done quickly. You are not graded; it is all for you. Do not think about the conclusion. That will come by itself and you will have the understanding you need when you need it. Do not rush. However,if you hurry through this in a minute or two, you definitely are not a perfectionist.
Download and print the file, Common Bogus Beliefs.pdf. Look for the download icon in Lecture 8. It will be helpful to you to carry a copy of the Bogus Beliefs with you so you can take a quick look at it from time to time during the day. Nothing does more to help you to change than to become aware of how your thinking is harmful to you. You must recognize the seed of the problem so you can eliminate it before it grows into a tree!
We are down to specific methods now. Please, for your own sake, do what you need to do to get out of the cage of perfectionism. It will take some time--many repetitions--to erase old habits of thinking and doing. But it will be worth it as the load of bricks falls off your back, brick by brick, and you become free to jump and dance for joy without the burden of impossible expectations to carry. Get after it, my friend, and show yourself (and all of us) what you can do!
Print this single page in color. Cut apart the four mini-posters and put them in places where you will see them often. They will inspire you, reinforce what you learn, and motivate you toward better habits.
If you are as frustrated as Oscar living with Felix, read this. If you can do the perfectionist the favor of helping them give up their crazy beliefs, wonderful! If you have to cope, learn to cope at peace within yourself and with them.
Would you rather pass a burden down to a child, or strengthen her or him for the future by teaching the pursuit of excellence (not perfection)? Read this carefully, use its wisdom vigorously.
WHAT’S A “FOREVER” TRUTH?
A “Forever” Truth is a fact—a reality—that remains the same throughout time (century after century) and across space (from continent to continent) no matter what or how all other things may change. The Holy Bible—written by Jehovah through the hands of people he chose—is the source of such truth on all matters of human conduct (it is not about technical details of the physical universe).
The Bible is about the human spirit, about how we think about ourselves and our relationships, about the practical matters of everyday life. This is shown by these samples of its teaching about perfectionism. I have confidence in this information, not because it is old truth, and not even because it proves itself in practice to be true (as it does), but I have confidence in these words (that are recorded in the Bible) because I have confidence in God, who has always treated me exactly as the Bible says he would. He is God who wants relationship with little ol’ me. His nature is love, and because of that he makes it possible for every part of my life to have meaning, even when what I do is less than perfect.
Don't stop too soon. Learn more, earn more, care more, enjoy life more.
Rich Walters holds master’s degrees in business and counseling, and the PhD in counseling psychology (University of Georgia). He learned theories about distress such as anger and perfectionism during his training, but he learned the "real, where-the-rubber-meets-the-road" practical help that is in his courses from clinical experience as a licensed psychologist. Every strategy he recommends has worked time and again as a useful answer for a valued person. He has led hundreds of training sessions on anger, conflict management, and human relations skills in businesses and churches, has taught counselor education and psychology at para-professional, undergraduate, and graduate levels, and is the author of 24 books on counseling-related topics and life skills (published in nine countries). He recently retired as Vice-President for Academic Affairs at Oxford Graduate School. He is co-founder (with his wife, Dr Diana Walters) of the Center for Bold Action, a nonprofit that encourages and equips people to live joyfully and effectively for the betterment of their own and others' lives.