The Difference Between Perfectionism and Personal Development

And how perfectionism keeps you stuck and personal imperfections help you grow.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

In your quest to develop, to be successful, to enjoy the company of others, to be loved, to be accepted, you often try to present yourself in the best light, to shine, to be strong, to be successful, to be perfect.

This is more than just one simple aspect of you — it’s your personal qualities, your different mental states, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Do you in fact know what is the best part of you? Do people around you know which is the best part of you and how to find it? Do you present this one thing to others and to your own self?

Do others perceive what you think of your own self? These are some simple questions, yet at the same time related to topics such as self-esteem, relationships, successes, and failures in life.

Would this relate to the so-called Perfectionism? Or in fact, would it be Perfectionism?

I personally do not think so. By hearing these words at the outset, I could say that I do not think the best in anybody is related to perfectionism. In most cases any shape or form of perfectionism is imaginary mental and physical condition.

In my humble opinion, these imaginary conditions are not real. They don’t portray the best of people or give the best of one’s self to others. On the contrary, the idea of perfection raises high expectations — towards one self, to the environment, and to others.

Perfectionism is different from the pursuit of an individual’s personal development. You live to develop, to pursue your goals and dreams, yet you must not forget that what makes you the way you are, what makes you a human and what actually makes the path of development so special, so memorable and instructive, is precisely the number of small imperfections you have.

Man is a reasonable being. But besides thinking, man lives through many experiences, and number of emotions and feelings that actually define the typology of the individual in some way.

Emotions and feelings are not and cannot be perfect. Perhaps, because they cannot be fully empowered. Or at least their “appearance” cannot be. And you should not forget that control is an essential feature that determines perfection.

The idea of perfection is connected with many demands, unrealistic and burdensome expectations with the impossibility of forgiveness and compromise. The idea of perfection is related to many things that in reality at one level deny human nature. There is no way then that this is the best of you, of someone.

What about Success and Achievements?

Do you give the best of your own self only when you talk and share your accomplishments and successes? Is this the best of you?

Hardly. The idea of sharing positive experiences is wonderful and inspirational, but this is again the way you show only that part of yourself that is connected with the successful, powerful image, and you are not only those successful moments.

There is a real danger of either idealizing or demonizing yourself (depending on the type of mental functioning and the life experience it carries, as well as the type of interaction you are in). In both cases, it is a matter of extremes (as is perfection in itself), and extremes rarely lead to something positive.

Shared successful experiences in dosed quantities could be something very useful and motivating, but it hardly sums up the best of you because what reveals you is the complete personal characteristics you have besides your successful and strong features.

They allow you to shows your sensitivity and the need of others. Allowing others to touch the little wounds and the insecure child in you is sometimes more valuable than all shared successes and achievements.

What about Recognition?

Can you identify the best in your own self? Whether you know what it is and if you don’t, how can you understand it? Sometimes it is difficult. People often have unrealistic self-esteem — sometimes unjustifiably inflated and narcissistically “pumped”, and sometimes too depressed and unreasonably torn.

Of course, this is very much related to the life experience and the mental world of the person in question. With his or her traumatic experiences, with the interactions with the rest, is it real or mental figures and images? Sometimes, when it is difficult to answer this question, it might be useful to think about what is the best you would like to see and feel from and in others.

Look around. The needs of people are not so different, though sometimes stated and expressed in a different way. Within a common boundary, there are needs that are identical for all, although different people come to experience them in different periods of time or situations.

So, if you wonder what is the best of you that you want to develop or give and share with others, you can just ask yourself what is the best you want to see and feel from others. Try and even compare your answers. You will see that, however different at first glance, a more thorough analysis will show that they really have a lot to do with what is the best in you.

If you enjoyed my article, please share it it, so others may see it, too. I would also love to read your comments. Your feedback inspires me to keep researching, exploring, experimenting, testing, and refining ideas, growing, writing and speaking.

All of us grow faster when we collaborate and support each other. I encourage people to contribute value to the world, so we can make compounding ripples of improvement for everyone.

About The Author

Dr. Kachovska is an internationally known Change Catalyst. She teaches individuals and organizations about awareness, connection and the need for change — personally, socially, and professionally.

You can connect with her on Thrive Global, Medium, Twitter and LinkedIn