Friday, January 13, 2012

Perils of perfectionism

Perfectionism is a tendency to strive unceasingly for excessively high standards of performance accompanied by severe self criticism.It can be of two types-adaptive & maladaptive. In it's adaptive form it bestows success & satisfaction to the person  & is responsible for the many scientific & engineering marvels which we  profit from every day.But in it's maladaptive avatar it instigates the person to try for unattainable goals & thus sets the stage for frustration.The latter can be inimical & counter-productive-especially when it's ambit is extended to include those around him.

Let us take a look at the perfectionist's personality.He is very neat & tidy & likewise,his surroundings.All his routines & activities have a fixed time & format.You could set the clock by them.He would not change them for anything.This perfectionism encompasses his family & work environment too.At home there is strict discipline--a place for everything & everything in place.Both,family & staff are expected to follow the guidelines laid down by him.Woe betide anyone who does not come up to his expectations.Naturally,the atmosphere around him is always grim.

So this is the general picture.It describes Anil perfectly.His subordinates seek safe hiding places when he is around.And his boss-he is happy with his work but there is no personal rapport.Even he squirms in his presence---secretly of course!The reason is,that an aura of "I am more efficient than you" emanates from his demeanor.Obviously he is persona non-grata in the office.

Now let us shift to his home.Ah! what a punctilious view greets us.No,no,this is not because his family members too have an obsession for orderliness.Rather this is the outcome of an unannounced martial law.But what is this?There is a scowl on wife Era's face.Obviously,the whole discipline has bypassed her.Anyhow,better news awaits us in the children's room-they are sitting head down at their study tables.Suddenly the peace is shattered.There is an argument going on between Anil & Era.Oh my God!Not again?Only in the morning he had chastised her about underdone eggs & overdone toasts.The kids are cringing in their room.They wish their father too would sit &chat with them in an informal way just as their friends'fathers do.But leave it ,this is a daily feature.

It is time now to peep into Anil's insides.What do we find there?Why,he is as vulnerable as the next person.He craves approbation.He wants to outshine everybody else.And he hates criticism or reprimand,which is why he takes such pains with all his work.He has come to believe that he can commit no fault & hence whenever he is pulled up for a lapse he presents a very sorry picture.What's more,he believes that he is superior to the rest of hoi polloi & all this makes him very unpopular.To make matters worse he sees himself very far from his desired goal,& this is gnawing at his self esteem.

He is so engrossed in his accuracy & exactitude that he has no time to enjoy simple pleasures or feel at ease.His friends dread his arrival when they are in a mood to party.He does not realize that this fetish for exactitude robs him of congeniality,chumminess & happiness.
Perhaps a little bit of imperfection is not bad at all!!!!!!

22 comments :

  1. i just thanked my stars that i am not married to a character like Anil!
    i do like people who give their best shot in everything they do but there has to be a certain liveliness too. Anil sounds like a military commander and to have someone like that at home especially an elderly or head of the house kind of person is quite scary for me
    i would rather be a little imperfect than too perfect

    ReplyDelete
  2. I completely agree with you.And since i AM an elderly mother-in-law (or is it monster-in-law)i take care to avoid this.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I hate being perfect. For me, if you are perfect, there is no scope of improvement. Also, I love to be myself and human...Thankfully, people around me are sane...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Point taken...thanx for visiting!

    ReplyDelete
  5. There are sometimes thin lines of boundaries depending upon the circumstances. Some times if you are attentive and careful, they call you perfectionist .. as a client receiving the service, I would look at it differently than as a spouse or a child who is waiting for attention at home ..

    ReplyDelete
  6. u have made a valid point there...our expectations largely depend upon our own relation to the person...but just being attentive & careful does not qualify for perfectionism,no what people may say.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am married to a perfectionist and reality is not this grim :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. may u both live happily ever after------what i described was an extreme case----otherwise so many of us do take pride in doing a job to the best of our ability....but when we base our acceptance of others on this attribute ,then we become a pain in -u know where.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Nothing perfect fits so better in the lives we live. If there is someone like Anil who is trying to make everything look perfect around them, then no one would ever get to learn something new. We are made perfect, but we are not born perfect, so we try to make things better. But we can never be perfect no matter how hard we try.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Yes Elvira we humans cant be perfect but some have this misconception which is not good for them or those around them.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Being a perfectionist has its won pros and cons.
    Well it may be good but at times it makes you distant from the people you ought to be with.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Ah! Indu! I am a perfectionist in my own way. The thing is I do not want everything to be perfect. My perfectionism is limited to doing the best possible job when someone else has reason to expect it - as in my job (when I was working), in a meal when I have invited someone home etc. I do not start the day with a perfect toothbrush brushing perfect teeth and move from thereon :) I hope that is adaptive perfectionism - since I expect only that others will also give the best shot possible and not that they turn out the perfect output.

    I do know the sort that you have described - and I think they make themselves as unhappy as they make the people around them. One other problem with perfectionists in office is that they tend to miss time-schedules because they cannot turn in what they think is a 'imperfect job'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No doubt your kind of perfectionism is the way to be.

      Delete
  13. Extremism of any sort is bad for health :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. In J D Salinger's novel, The Catcher in the Rye, a teacher tells the 16-year old protagonist that the latter would end up as a person who would find fault with people for their spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Because Holden wants perfection! I have seen many perfectionists with just that attitude: people who miss the wood for the trees.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks for your input-your comparison is very suitable.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Yet another masterpiece Indu! Loved it to perfection:):)

    ReplyDelete
  17. And how i love your comments!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Great post Indu. I somehow feel that one cannot desire to be follow this in all walks of life. For example, one might try to be perfect at his job, like Amir Khan; one might try to be perfect at something else. I wonder if a guy like Anil exists at all!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Diwakar welcome to jeeteraho.I hope there are few such persons who do not give a margin of error to others.Please keep visiting.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for reading,how about commenting?