Driving off Perfectionism


backboard (Photo credit: camflan)

My son is beginning to show traits of perfectionism. We have recently been teaching him to write. Frustrated that his letters do not look identical to those that he is tracing or copying, he throws down his pencils and gives up.

Throwing the ball at basketball, he quickly became frustrated that he couldn’t get it in the ring. It didn’t matter that the basketball hoop was about three times higher than him.

My partner is a perfectionist. I have watched it eat away at his life and prevent him from achieving. He has so many talents but perfectionism makes him procrastinate. He is a great photographer but has never succeeded in establishing it as a career as he is always waiting for the perfect photo. I think he has many great photos. I tell him I like his photos but he is never sure. I am always met with “they are ok”.

Perfectionism has held him back at work as well. His acute attention to detail makes it almost impossible for him to complete tasks. Striving to make every minute detail perfect, he can spend hours on tasks that would take me approximately five minutes.

I don’t want my son to let his perfectionism hold him back. I make him pick up his pencils and keep going. “It doesn’t matter,” I tell him. You can do it. Just keep trying.

I have realised that perfectionists have a completely different mindset to me. I love to paint. For me, it is all about the process. I don’t care what the end result looks like. I love the feeling of splashing paint across a canvas. I love getting my hands dirty and losing myself in the moment. My partner never likes my paintings. They are not true representations of the world. They are expressions of my feelings in colour. He doesn’t understand.

So to drive off perfectionism I am getting my son to paint. We are losing ourselves in a world of colour. Throwing the brushes out and using our hands. I want him to learn that the best way is somewhere in the middle. That while end results count, the process of doing can be just as fun and rewarding.  I hope that he can find a way to still achieve high results without being held back by always wanting to be better.


4 thoughts on “Driving off Perfectionism

  1. Pingback: The Ten Commandments of Perfectionism « JRFibonacci's blog: partnering with reality

  2. Pingback: How To Help Your Perfectionist Child | Therapy Stew

  3. Thanks for including me and I hope you enjoy the painting with your son, what a lovely idea! I heard someone the other day say he was addicted to outcomes and that he was working on changing his demands to preferences. I could use that choice, too.

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