You can't learn how to ski without falling in the snow. Life is not about being perfect, it's about continuing to try. It's about rising to challenges, not avoiding them.
Psychologists today say that the pressure on children to be perfect is greater than ever, and with disastrous consequences. Perfectionists are terrified of making mistakes and thus paralyzed from acting and growing and achieving.
Here is a brief summary of a perfectionist's view of the world (as described in Psychology Today, March/April 2008):
Concern over mistakes: Perfectionists tend to interpret mistakes as equivalent to failure and to believe they will lose the respect of others following failure.
High personal standards: Perfectionists don't just set very high standards but place excessive importance on those standards for self-evaluation.
Parental expectations: Perfectionists tend to believe their parents set very high goals for them.
Parental criticism: Perfectionists perceive that their parents are (or were) overly critical.
Doubting actions: Perfectionists doubt their ability to accomplish tasks.
Organization: Perfectionists tend to emphasize order."
You don't have to be a psychologist to recognize that this is not a recipe for happiness or accomplishment.
And much of the blame lies at the feet of...you know who. Although schools and peers sometimes put too much pressure on our kids, the biggest culprits are us, the parents.
We must demonstrate love for our children, believe in them and an appreciation of effort as opposed to results.
It's what we communicate to our children that has the biggest impact, that is most influential in shaping their outlook. If we exhibit zero tolerance for mistakes, so will they. And we will all lead severely constricted lives as a result. We must demonstrate love for our children, believe in them and an appreciation of effort as opposed to results.
One of our core beliefs is that while the effort is in our hands, the outcome is in the Almighty's. Whether our work will meet with success is out of our control. Being a perfectionist becomes irrelevant -- at the least, and damaging -- at the worst.
The Almighty doesn't expect us to be perfect. He knows it's not realistic. And we don't need to set higher standards than the Almighty Himself.
We will never be perfect, but with more self-love and appreciation, we can accomplish a great deal. And focusing on the positive spurs us to continue.