The Hidden Danger of Perfectionism
Are you a person who likes everything to be just right and perfect?
Are you an overachiever that is always going above and beyond to make sure all things turn out great?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, then you may be able to relate to having some perfectionist traits. I have always pride myself in being a perfectionist, but I have recently learned how perfectionism can cause significant unhappiness if not managed appropriately.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have worked long hours because I have a passion project that I am completing at work and when you are doing something that you are passionate about, you can spend countless hours doing it because you feel so fulfilled. Although I loved what I was doing at work, I had a break-down because I wasn’t getting the results I wanted from work and my home life was crumbling right before my eyes.
My son wasn’t seeing me as much after school and it began to show up in his behavior. For 3 days in a row, Romeo came home with a “yellow card”. For those of you who don’t know what this means, our school is on a color tracker for disciplinary actions. Therefore, every day your child will come home with a report stating the day he has had. The colors and their meanings are listed below.
Green- Above & Beyond
Orange- Call Home
Red- Principal’s Office
Every day the children start on blue and from August – March of this year, my son didn’t have a single day where he brought home a color below blue. He was so perfect and well behaved in my eyes and I’ve always prided myself in having a child that listens and obeys.
The first day that he came home with a yellow card, I flipped! I was so upset. I punished him and made him eat dinner and go straight to his room for bed.
He made his first mistake… and I scolded him. I made him feel like it wasn’t safe to make mistakes.
I want him to trust that he can come to me when he makes mistakes and not be afraid to tell me. But I really failed at that opportunity with my reaction to his first yellow card.
The very next day he came home and didn’t want to even show me his card. He claimed that he left his daily report but I found it hidden under his car seat. He had a yellow card again. AGAIN! I was so upset because not only did he get yellow two days in a row, but he tried to hide it from me.
On top of all of this, I still was trying make this passion project perfect at work, act like I could be any and everything to everyone who needed my help. I was failing… and failing miserably.
I asked the teacher what was going on that made my son receive yellow cards two days in a row and she told me that he was socializing more. She said, “When school first started, I was worried about your son not making friends because he wouldn’t talk to anyone but now he has friends and tends to talk more in class. Could you talk to him about recess and lunch being the only social times?”
Socializing more? That’s all? I am panicking and punishing my son for having friends and learning to be social. I had projected this false sense of perfection over him because of what I was feeling in my own life.
This moment taught me so much about how unmanaged perfectionism can cause stress and unhappiness.
I learned that it’s okay to make mistakes and that I can’t be perfect at everything. The goal is to just be happy and do your best and learn from those little bumps that tend to bruise you mentally and emotionally.
I can no longer say that my son has never received a card below blue… and so what!?
I can no longer say that I exceeded every expectation on my project at work… and so what!?
I am not perfect. No one is! But, what I am… is an awesome hard worker, a loving and cool mom, and the best me in the world and that’s all that matters.
I share this story with you to encourage you to embrace your love for making things just right and perfect but don’t let it consume you as it did me. Be able to change the things you can, accept the things you cannot, and live a happy and stress-free life!