The Perfectionist’s Dilemma

Perfectionism is a character defect not confined to those of us with fibro/CFS, but enough of us have it that I’d like to share a recent insight here.

Perversely, feeling bad about ourselves is a strategy we use in order to feel better about ourselves – A strategy to avoid that feeling of shock and devastation when another person criticizes us. We think that if we come up with every self-criticism we can think of, then no criticism from anyone else will come as a surprise. Given enough time, we may even be able to design a defensive strategy. This usually takes the form of trying to fix every one of our perceived flaws, and “be” that person we think others want us to be.

We unconsciously strive to stay current on our self-criticism, as a kind of hyper-vigilance that will protect us from attack. Even if we can’t fix everything, we feel better telling others our faults before they get a chance to tell us!

One of the ironies here is that while we are spending so much mental and emotional energy trying to be perfect, other people seem to go along doing whatever they like, regardless of what WE may think of THEM! How fair is that? NOT! We end up with mega-resentments!

Looked at this way it seems clear to me that when I am in “perfectionist mode” it is my ego that is operating – the part of me that cannot stand to be criticized. So perversely, this ego part is making me live in an environment of constant criticism – of myself!

The ego is not bad or wrong – it’s job really is to protect us. Our higher self has the job of identifying when the ego is using a strategy that is not working. The higher self realizes that in reality we do not need protection, because our true transcendent self can not actually ever be harmed. In a day -to – day sense we may like to use practical strategies to avoid problems, and the perfectionist strategy is just not a very effective one.

What do you think?

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