"The problem here is a totalitarian uniformity, a cult-like mentality such that even allies are enemies if they fail to follow the Exact Party Line. " - Phyllis Chesler

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Perfectionism

I am reading about this term and found a very interesting page where the author writes about her own life as a perfectionist and what it cost her.

One of the first things she says is:
"it's this very attempt to please others that has caused so much distress in my life."

And I am just stuck on that sentence. TOTALLY STUCK! Because it seems to sum up me!

I can't say I am a perfectionist in every area of my life. But when it comes to relationships I believe what I am reading would cover me. I never feel I am good enough and that if I screw up I will not be accepted. Hmmm.

I remember when I was a kid feeling that what I did was never enough. I wasn't a great student and there were many arguments much like those commercials you see on television today for those learning centers, where the mom says to the kid, "We punished you..." etc. and nothing is working and the kid says,"You think I want to fail?"

While Mom would say differently, I remember always feeling that my brother was the golden child. Pretty much the only time I ever impressed my mother was with manners, like always saying "thank you". In fact, I remember my mother telling someone else how polite I was that even if she gave me a food item I would always say thank you. I can't even tell you who she spoke to or how old I was, but I will NEVER forget that assessment of me. And to this day I will still do that because I know Mom liked it and her approval was important to me.

I also remember getting positive feedback if I would clean for her without her asking. Many a time I would tell my parents that I didn't want to go on an outing with them and my brother. They would come back to see I had cleaned the kitched, washed the floor etc.

It was those times I would receive praise.

When I did things I wanted or asked to do things I wanted just for me, I was often denied based on my parents feelings about how what I would do would affect them. I wanted so much to be a working actor, but according to mom I would end up like "one of those kids from Different Strokes" and she wasn't going to have that in her home."

It's deeper than I can properly explain in writing but the bare bones are there.

Funny enough, Mom has taken to telling me lately while chatting on the phone that "you don't have to be perfect."

Yes, Mom. I know this now. But the 37 years of opposite reinforcement ain't so easy to just correct overnight.

I'll write more on this later. Penny for your thoughts?

7 comments:

Carrie said...

Back in the day, you are 37 and I am 49, there was not much concern about children and their mental health. Phil Donohue was ground breaking and earth shattering.

I don't even think my mom reads my blog because of my "potty" mouth. She rambles on and on about how great other people are for adopting, but kept saying to me (while I was adopting) I don't know why you want so many kids. To this day, my mom talks about how hard it was on HER when MY daughter died. WTF (example of potty mouth right there).

I hope I understood your post correctly, if not just delete this. I didn't mean to air my dirty laundry here.

Lauren said...

Hi Carrie, You added what you felt was correct. Now who is acting like the perfectionist. HA!

Thank you for bringing your thoughts to my comments.

Julie said...

I totally understand! I am way too much of a perfectionist, too. I am so hard on myself. I try to ease up, but it isn't easy, is it?

Lauren said...

Julie, well maybe I need to take a look at how you handle your perfectionism because it hasn't affected coupling up. I read more from that author and really saw a lot of me there and think I have done a lot of damage to so many opportunities for relationships. Of course not all were damaged because of this...certainly not the most recently one. But many have been. Hmmm

Jessica said...

Good post! I'm a perfectionist too, however I'm slowly learning to cut myself some slack. At least I'm able to recognize it now. It has been detrimental in a lot of my relationships (not just with men) because I expect others to be perfect as well.

Lauren said...

Jessica,
I think you are correct...you and I have a lot of things in common. Hmmm

Well if you could find your soulmate then I can too! :-)

Gypsy said...

It's odd that no matter how old we get we still seek the approval of our parent(s). I finally let go of my need to win my mum's approval about 10 years ago when it was pointed out to me that my mum very much used this compulsive need to always get what she wanted. She's not a mean person and we have a good relationship but it's better now that I don't try to please hr anymore. She respects me more now too which is even stranger.