Sunday, November 2, 2014

My paralyzing perfectionism -

The trouble with aiming for perfection is that failure is guaranteed. Every minor shortfall—every 95%—reinforces a perfectionist’s sense of unworthiness. These feelings become unbearable, and we’ll do anything to make them stop, whether it’s the false confidence of cocaine or the total check-out of opiates. And once we’re entangled in active addiction, we make even more bad choices to beat ourselves up about. Worst of all, since Rule Number 2 of Perfectionland is to never ask for help from anyone, perfectionists are often the last to seek therapy, treatment, and especially 12-step groups. Coming to see oneself as powerless is (no pun intended) a tough pill for a perfectionist to swallow. We’re more likely to try to recover through sheer self-will because surrendering sounds like something only a loser would do. Then when we relapse we beat ourselves up even more, and the cycle of guilt, shame, and punishment continues.

It’s this loss of connection with the self, I think, that really makes perfectionists so prone to mental illness. Perfectionists’ self-esteem is always yo-yoing between self-importance and self-loathing. We hold ourselves to higher standards than we demand of the rest of the world, yet we refuse to acknowledge anything less than a full-on victory. I’ve seen this same contradiction in the rooms of recovery. Even though addiction causes people to be extremely selfish, many addicts acknowledge that they’re harder on themselves than on anyone else.

My paralyzing perfectionism -

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