Our society seems to put a great amount of focus on perfectionism. All of this talk about perfectionism, may have you asking “can making mistakes be good?” In this blog, we are going to take a look at perfectionism and why making mistakes can be great for us!
How Common Is Perfectionism?
Perfectionism is one of the greatest contributors to stress and anxiety in our society, and it isn’t difficult to understand why. Perfectionistic tendencies usually receive a great deal of social support. For example, parents rarely say to their kids, “Please don’t try to do such a great job with your schoolwork!” and employers rarely say, “Don’t strive for such excellence in your work all the time!” What this shows us is that perfectionism is usually encouraged. Because of this, perfectionistic people are often conditioned to become even more perfectionistic.
What Are The Consequences Of Perfectionism?
Perfectionism can take an enormous emotional toll. People who are perfectionistic are often highly self-critical, chronically stressed, and prone to burnout in their work. In addition, their relationships are often strained by the pressure they put on themselves (and, at times, on the people around them). Their perfectionistic tendencies may leave them feeling like mice running on a wheel in a cage — running ever-faster, but never finding lasting satisfaction. Changing this pattern can be an important goal in therapy.
Why It’s Great to Be Able to Make Mistakes
Can you believe that making mistakes can actually be a good thing? That may sound hard to believe, but here are a few benefits of making mistakes:
- Small Mistakes Don’t Ruin An Otherwise Fine Whole: Often, we fear making mistakes because we see everything in absolutist, perfectionistic terms – one mistake and the whole is ruined. This just isn’t true. A small mistake will not ruin the whole.
- Mistakes Help Us Learn: It’s good to make mistakes because then we learn. In fact, we won’t learn unless we make mistakes. No one can avoid making mistakes, and since it’s going to happen in any case, we may as well accept it and learn from it.
- Mistakes Help Us Adjust Behavior: Recognizing our mistakes helps us to adjust our behavior so that we can get results we’re more pleased with… We might say that mistakes ultimately operate to make us happier and make things better.
- Fear Of Mistakes Can Be Paralyzing: If we fear making mistakes, we become paralyzed: we’re afraid to do or try anything, since we might (in fact, probably will) make some mistakes. If we restrict our activities so that we won’t make mistakes, then we are really defeating ourselves. The more we try and the more mistakes we make, the faster we’ll learn and the happier we’ll ultimately be.
- Most People Around Us Are Okay With Mistakes: Most people aren’t going to be mad at us or dislike us because we make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, and most people actually feel uncomfortable around “perfect” people.
If you are desiring to overcome perfectionism and would like the help of a counselor, we have a team of counselors ready to help you! Contact us today at (256) 239-5662 or online to schedule an appointment.
This blog was written by Caroline Ross, MS, LPC, NCC, a mental health counselor at our Jacksonville, AL location. Learn more about Caroline here.