It’s hard for teens to be happy when they’ve created a very narrow window of what defines success. The goal of A Perfectionist’s Guide to Not Being Perfect by Bonnie Zucker, PsyD is to encourage teens to maintain their desire to achieve without striving to always be perfect and to appreciate and love who they are just as they are, not for what they do or accomplish. Finding a balance between work and play is key. Challenging perfectionism is about the pursuit of happiness.
Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 1: What is Perfectionism and Why Change It?
The thing that is really hard and really amazing is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. Anna Quindlen, Author
Being a perfectionist means refusing to accept anything less than perfect, and it’s a disadvantage (not an advantage.)
- People tend to see it as a personality trait that is characterized by creating and working toward excessively high, unrealistic standards that are often impossible to meet. It can cause stress, anxiety, eating disorders, and depression, and it prevents you from trying new things and feeling good about yourself.
Perfectionism makes you feel like a failure and see only one path to being successful in life (even though there are many paths!).
- Perfectionists think their achievements define who they are and are a measure of what they are worth.
- Perfectionism is often about gaining the approval of others, or wanting to be accepted and admired by them, and avoiding judgment or blame. The focus is on what others think, rather than what you think.
Perfectionism and striving for excellence are not the same thing.
- Perfectionists often have a hard time with “good enough,” thinking of it as doing the bare minimum. But good enough often is enough, and allowing yourself to sometimes do a good enough job lets you have a more balanced life. The goal is to have positive striving for excellence without perfectionism and its negative consequences.
Perfectionism can manifest in many ways.
- General – wanting things to be a certain way, rigidity/inflexibility, closed to change.
- Academic – requiring top grades / All As.
- Sports performance – requiring excelling at sports: always starting, being the best player, etc.
- Body image – strictly pursuing a certain body type, often thin and toned or lean and muscular
- Relationships – holding others to high standards and not being forgiving or flexible if others make mistakes or do things in a different way. Judging others.
- People-pleasing – prioritizing what others think of you, saying “yes” and being agreeable even when it’s not your preference. Putting others’ needs and preferences above your own.
No matter the type or cause of your perfectionism, you can work to change it!
Related Books from Magination Press
A Perfectionist’s Guide to Not Being Perfect
It’s hard for teens to be happy when they’ve created a very narrow window of what defines success. The goal of this helpful book is to encourage teens to maintain their desire to achieve without striving to always be perfect and to appreciate and love who they are just as they are, not for what they do or accomplish. Finding a balance between work and play is key. Challenging perfectionism is about the pursuit of happiness.
When teens can recognize that perfectionism is a disadvantage, they can become motivated to do something about it. For many, it may just be shifting the perfectionism a bit to land in a more positive place. It might be about deciding when and where to be slightly perfectionistic, when and where they can let go of high standards and all-or-nothing thinking, and when it’s okay to simply do a “good enough” job on something.