The Flip Side Of Perfectionism

I’m kicking myself right now.  I know what happened, I know why I did it, but I’m still annoyed at me.

I finished a project a while back and skipped a few steps here and there.  Now I’m having to go back and fix it – something that was on my list of things to do, but not super urgent.  Now it’s past time to fix it.

I tell my kids “if you’re going to do it, do it right” all the time.  I should have done it right the first time.


The thing is, I know what happened.  I know why I did things the way I did, and it’s not making me any happier about myself.  I’m a recovering perfectionist.  Some days are better than others, and right now is not great.

Perfectionism takes multiple aspects, but for me it’s fairly simple.  It has to be perfect.  All of it!  I have serious trouble accepting something that’s not quite right.

If I can’t get it perfect, then I swing to the opposite extreme: I don’t care.


Now, it doesn’t seem logical that I can feel two opposite emotions about something, right?  It’s not logical.   It’s how my brain works.  Apparently I have an inner toddler who pouts, stomps her feet, and runs away crying “I can’t do it so I give up!”  My coping mechanism for the sad truth about attaining perfection (you can’t) is to give up.

Sometimes you’ll see this manifest both ways in a project.  Part of it will be precise and perfect.  Part of it will ….not be perfect.  The worst thing about this is that I’ll forever compare the perfect bits to the not-perfect bits and agonize over the bad spots.


That’s why I’m redoing this project: because I lay awake at night worrying that someone would smack me with a lawsuit over the incorrect attributions.  The perfectionism triggered the coping mechanism, which now triggers my anxiety.  Yuck.


There’s some magical point in the middle of this mess that I can’t ever seem to mange.  “Try your best,” I urge my kids.  “It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you do have to try.”  I do try.  Then I despair because it’s just not good enough.  I cannot accept anything less, because it will forever niggle at the back of my mind and paralyze me into indecision.

Logically it doesn’t add up.  Logically, I know better.  Emotionally though – emotionally I’m loaded with a ton of baggage that holds me back and trips me up.


Oh well.  I’m off to the grind of redoing this thing.  I don’t have to make it perfect, I just have to get it right.

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