Friday, January 13, 2012

Perils of perfectionism

Perfectionism is a tendency to strive unceasingly for excessively high standards of performance accompanied by severe self criticism.It can be of two types-adaptive & maladaptive. In it's adaptive form it bestows success & satisfaction to the person  & is responsible for the many scientific & engineering marvels which we  profit from every day.But in it's maladaptive avatar it instigates the person to try for unattainable goals & thus sets the stage for frustration.The latter can be inimical & counter-productive-especially when it's ambit is extended to include those around him.

Let us take a look at the perfectionist's personality.He is very neat & tidy & likewise,his surroundings.All his routines & activities have a fixed time & format.You could set the clock by them.He would not change them for anything.This perfectionism encompasses his family & work environment too.At home there is strict discipline--a place for everything & everything in place.Both,family & staff are expected to follow the guidelines laid down by him.Woe betide anyone who does not come up to his expectations.Naturally,the atmosphere around him is always grim.

So this is the general picture.It describes Anil perfectly.His subordinates seek safe hiding places when he is around.And his boss-he is happy with his work but there is no personal rapport.Even he squirms in his presence---secretly of course!The reason is,that an aura of "I am more efficient than you" emanates from his demeanor.Obviously he is persona non-grata in the office.

Now let us shift to his home.Ah! what a punctilious view greets us.No,no,this is not because his family members too have an obsession for orderliness.Rather this is the outcome of an unannounced martial law.But what is this?There is a scowl on wife Era's face.Obviously,the whole discipline has bypassed her.Anyhow,better news awaits us in the children's room-they are sitting head down at their study tables.Suddenly the peace is shattered.There is an argument going on between Anil & Era.Oh my God!Not again?Only in the morning he had chastised her about underdone eggs & overdone toasts.The kids are cringing in their room.They wish their father too would sit &chat with them in an informal way just as their friends'fathers do.But leave it ,this is a daily feature.

It is time now to peep into Anil's insides.What do we find there?Why,he is as vulnerable as the next person.He craves approbation.He wants to outshine everybody else.And he hates criticism or reprimand,which is why he takes such pains with all his work.He has come to believe that he can commit no fault & hence whenever he is pulled up for a lapse he presents a very sorry picture.What's more,he believes that he is superior to the rest of hoi polloi & all this makes him very unpopular.To make matters worse he sees himself very far from his desired goal,& this is gnawing at his self esteem.

He is so engrossed in his accuracy & exactitude that he has no time to enjoy simple pleasures or feel at ease.His friends dread his arrival when they are in a mood to party.He does not realize that this fetish for exactitude robs him of congeniality,chumminess & happiness.
Perhaps a little bit of imperfection is not bad at all!!!!!!