Perfect Mom Syndrome Is Destroying You & Your Kids
, Says Science

How To Be Happy With Yourself: Let Go Of Your Perfectionism

Perfection is boring. It lacks color, mistakes, and the very things that make us human. While striving for perfection, sometimes, is OK, to live your life as a perfectionist is actually doing more harm than good. A new study has shown that when it comes to perfection, it's those who must succeed at all costs, who end up losing.

Some new findings on perfectionism have been released in the Review of General Psychology, and they're terrifying. In fact, it's becoming clear that the overwhelming need to be perfect all the time can actually contribute to suicide. Studies have found that when the surviving loved ones of those who have killed themselves were asked to describe the deceased, more than half called them "perfectionists." These people had caved under the intense pressures that they had put on themselves to succeed and be better than the rest, and it's tragedies that could have been prevented.

When we look at the most successful people in the world they are far from perfect. Research has confirmed that "successful people in any given field are less likely to be perfectionistic, because the anxiety about making mistakes gets in your way," explains psychologist Thomas S. Greenspon. "Waiting for the surgeon to be absolutely sure the correct decision is being made could allow me to bleed to death." Combine a situation like that with the fact that perfectionism is now being linked to suicide, and you have a deadly combination all around.

In believing that we will never be good enough or that we're constantly falling short, is far more detrimental to our human spirit than most people realize, because the need to be the best far outweighs the necessary compassion and leniency one needs to give themselves to take a breather from all that over-the-top striving. This isn't to suggest that goals and ambitions should be swept under the carpet, but that a room for error needs to be allowed; only in errors can people grow and learn.

Studies have also shown that perfectionist parents can do a number on their kids, too. Not only are they holding higher than normal standards for themselves and their children, but their behavior and anxiety over needing to be superior is also passed on to their kids. Who wants to pass that sort of pressure on to someone they love?

As Greenspon explains, kids love to hear stories of mistakes and failures. It not only instills in them the fact that no one is perfect, but shows that you, their parents, are human and they are, too. If you subtract the pressure of sometimes-unattainable success from the equation and allow your kids to not be confined by the constraints of your idea of what's best, then that's when you'll see your kids truly flourish. We need more children who will make mistakes, if we're to have more successful and happy adults.

There is something to be said for perfection, but there's even more to be said when it's not there. It binds us and keeps us from being free, and if it's not managed appropriately, it can be the death of us. We need to give ourselves a break and walk away from the rat race of trying to be better than the next guy; there's nothing wrong with coming in second place from time to time. Silver medals are just as shiny as gold ones, in case you haven't noticed.