Are you an abuser?

Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order. Anne Wilson Schaef

Driven to be much better (okay, the best) and to do 10 times more than before, perfectionistic individuals often slip into destructive levels of self-abuse. Shaming and self-criticism can become like sculpting tools used to shape oneself into a more “acceptable” sight and to achieve idealistic goals. (“In order to become the kindest person possible – an admirable end, right? – I’ll berate myself whenever a not-so-nice thought about another person arises…”)

Not only does perfectionism foster self-abuse, but it also extends an offensive spirit outward. My unrealistic standards for myself consciously or unconsciously become my unrealistic standards for you. If you can’t cut it, I may just have to cut you.

Here’s the conundrum: perfectionistic people tend to be self-motivated, hard working, and highly productive – the type you want on your team because they’re sure to get stuff done. However, while the “team” project may be completed by day’s end, when the perfectionists turn around they’ll usually find a wake of dead bodies left behind, buried beneath their bulldozer tracks.

In the relentless pursuit of the ever-elusive ideal, perfectionists often forget about the importance of people, relationships, and Love. What matters most can become distorted, even destroyed. Gentleness, acceptance, compassion, and care become foreign concepts that desperately need to be re-embraced and re-integrated into everyday life, otherwise an aching loneliness results. In the end, I may have my perfect product, but I am left alone, bruised, and battered to wonder whether it was worth the immense effort required to create it.

Are you an abuser?

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