Fighting flawlessness

55da0ee4f248caa1faa4f40e3d7eee9c

The question:

I’ve been called a perfectionist by a lot of people, and they are probably right. I tend to obsess over things and push for perfect all the time. Case in point: It took me way too long just to write this question. What is perfectionism, and how can I do less of it?

Perfectionism isn’t about getting it right or being perfect; rather, it’s a perpetual quest to find what’s wrong with something. For example, one may look at what others consider a beautiful piece of art and find flaws in it. Ultimately, a perfectionist needs to embrace the concept that there’s no such thing as perfect. Things can be just good or just OK.

Early on, a perfectionist may have been given mixed messages from parents: “Good job … but you can do better.” Or “Getting a B is good but an A is better.” This simultaneous criticism and praise sends a mixed message to the child and there’s a drive to satisfy the parent and do better, even when things by most standards are fine. Over time, a person becomes mired in this thinking. Depression and anxiety develop, and relationships can take a hit. 

Here’s how to be less perfect:

Change your narrative. Rather than looking at something’s negative aspects and perceived deficits and shortcomings, look at the positive traits and what you know to be fact. Lower your standards and come up with new and acceptable ones.

Revaluate your goals. Make them reasonable and be flexible.

Kill the dichotomous thinking. Accept the notion that there are more options than just perfect and imperfect. By seeing the countless shades of gray between black and white, you’ll expand your thinking; this can benefit you. 

Ask yourself: When is enough, enough? Embrace and normalize being OK.

Go ahead and get really messy and dirty — make mistakes, loosen up your thinking and prove to yourself that you’re still fine.  

– Jonathan Alpert is a licensed psychotherapist. E-mail him your questions at jonathan@jonathanalpert.com
Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages.




News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Mayor announces public housing improvements

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the Lincoln Houses in East Harlem on Wednesday, calling for the scaffolding to come down at NYCHA complexes across…

National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…

Local

Bratton defends 'broken windows' work as NYPD support…

Sixty percent of those polled said they support the "broken windows" theory approach popularized by Commissioner Bratton since his first term in the 1990s.

Local

Transit changes for Labor Day weekend

The MTA is adding additional service Friday for New Yorkers getting out of the city for the long weekend. On Friday, Aug. 29, 27 additional…

Television

'Full House' might be relaunched with some of…

A new "Full House" might be in the works.

Movies

Review: 'The Congress' is a crazy, unwieldy sci-fi…

Robin Wright is the center of gravity in "The Congress," which turns from a live-action Hollywood satire into an animated spectacular on a downer future.

Movies

Review: 'The Last of Robin Hood' is a…

Dakota Fanning plays Errol Flynn's (Kevin Kline) teenage gal pal in "The Last of Robin Hood," which takes a scandal and makes it dully empathetic.

Movies

Review: The uneven 'Life of Crime' mostly gets…

Elmore Leonard's "The Switch" becomes the new indie crime dramedy "Life of Crime," with Jennifer Aniston as a kidnapped woman whose husband won't pay up.

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

NFL

Dimitri Patterson suspended only for rest of preseason…

Dimitri Patterson ended up getting just a slap on the wrist.

Sports

Eugenie Bouchard excited for 'rowdy' fans at US…

Eugenie Bouchard is sure to endear herself to New York's tennis faithful as she tries to win her first grand slam title across the next two weeks.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at…

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at top, Nationals climb

Home

Labor Day essentials

Whether you’re soaking up the sun on the beach or barbecuing in the park here are some must-haves for your end-of-summer bash.

Education

Does the school day start too early?

As thousands of high schoolers get ready to head back to class, health experts say it may be time to push back the start of…

Style

Fall 2014 trend: lilac

Push those gray and black sweaters aside and make room for blush and lilac.

Career

Stop eating lunch at your desk

What are you doing for lunch today? If you are like most workers, you'll be eating at your desk - which isn't much of a…