Meaningful Matters - Eastbourne Herald

Perfectionism is it a blessing or a curse? If you are a perfectionist you may view it positively. On the other hand you may regard your perfectionism as something of a handicap by setting the bar so high in life that you are unlikely to succeed in reaching your objective.

Perfectionism often starts in childhood with parents and teachers encouraging children to become high achievers. Imperfection may have been viewed as failure or weakness. Some children may grow up believing that unless they are successful they are unlovable and not good enough. Author and researcher Brene Brown suggests that perfectionism is a “20-ton shield” that we carry around to protect ourselves from getting hurt. In most cases, perfectionism simply prevents us from truly connecting with others.

The competitive world of sport will have any number of perfectionists; I read recently that Andy Murray now has a new coach that will help him work on his crushing perfectionism. When self-confessed perfectionist Andre Agassi gave a speech at Harvard University he surprised his audience by describing tennis as more imprisoning than uplifting. He said of being number one in the world: “I wasn’t satisfied, and I was miserable. I was tired, and I simply had been through enough.” He went on to explain that every moment of his youth was dictated by his father’s maniacal drive. Success was his only option so he couldn’t accept anything less than perfection. After becoming the number one tennis player in the world he lost interest in the sport. Within two years he found himself in a broken marriage and addicted to crystal meth. At his lowest point of self-destruction he said that he flipped perfectionism on its head and “become a perfectionist about not being a perfectionist.”

Setting high standards in itself is not a problem when your expectations are reasonable; but you can still have high attainable standards without being perfect. We are all a work in progress and being imperfect is what makes us human; love and accept your authentic, perfectly imperfect self.