Paralyzed by perfection.  That is such an apt description, isn’t it?

I have spent the day with 2 dear dear friends.  We’ve had a fabulous time watching Downton Abbey episodes, eating, working on craft projects, laughing (mostly at ourselves) and discussing the not so fun parts of aging. (I will spare you the details).

They were teasing me about how happy I am to be blogging and all the goofy (my word) things about which I write. We chatted about perfectionism and then something was said that grabbed my attention. One of them made the comment that sometimes she is paralyzed by perfectionism.

Isn’t that exactly right?

The question begs to be asked. Make that a few questions!

  1. Why are we paralyzed by perfectionism?
  2. How are we paralyzed by perfectionism?
  3. Can we get rid of the paralysis?

I’m going to answer the third question first just to have a little fun.

Can we get rid of the paralysis?

I believe we can. By moving. By doing. Especially if we are moving in response to helping someone in need.  This may sound a bit simplistic.  Perhaps it is but then I am a simple kind of gal so it works for me. Providing a meal for someone who is ill is a way to get moving away from the idea that every meal I cook needs to be perfect.  Making and delivering a pot of soup can be the ideal situation in which I can get moving and not be paralyzed by perfectionism. The recipient will be grateful to have some healthy nourishment.

Now on to the second question.

How are we paralyzed by perfectionism?

We are paralyzed by perfectionism when we don’t attempt something new because we may fail. There are things I have never attempted because I didn’t think I would be able to do them OR it would require too much work to do them perfectly.  I’ve mentioned this before but what if I learn to play the piano mediocrely (for my ears only)?  Will it hurt anybody if I don’t tickle the ivories like Liberace?  Not likely-although MOMD might disagree if he is subjected to it on a regular basis.

What if our thinking is flawed? What if I’m a child middle-aged senior prodigy and didn’t know it? I might have missed out on the pleasure of playing because I didn’t THINK I could do it perfectly.

And finally…

Why are we paralyzed by perfectionism?

In my opinion we are paralyzed because of thinking we won’t be able to do it perfectly (as stated in the section above).

But also we allow ourselves to be paralyzed because of the ugly C word.  What ugly C word you may ask?  Any guesses?


That is the ugly C word to which I refer. Comparison is good as in comparison shopping for a lower price or better features.  I’m always about a good deal.  Always.

But I get myself into some BIG messes when I compare myself and my talents and gifts to those of another. It is easy to see that she does something perfectly while my attempt pales in comparison.

One more reason why we are paralyzed by perfectionism: we equate perfect with success.  People succeed at things all the time at which they are not perfect.  They try, they practice, they improve.  When they fail, they try again. And keep improving.

And so here is my challenge. (You KNOW you were waiting for it). Get up and move. Make a mistake. Try something new. Thumb your nose (is that like swearing?) at perfectionism and throw caution to the wind.

I’m in the process of making a crafty little project this week. It’s not perfect BUT I am going to share a picture in a day or two just so you’ll know I’m taking my own advice.

Thank you for reading!


  1. Bonnie Bradley says:

    I suffer from many many things but that’s not one of them I know I can’t do it perfectly so I never tried but I am going to do something new I except your challenge Miss Condy

  2. John P says:

    I got news for you, toots; you are not a senior yet. When your Boxster payments are being made from your Social Security, THEN you are a senior.

    The biggest and baddest critique does not come from the big “C” word, it comes from within, and it is undeniable. That is what slows down projects and often saps energy. It affects me and it affects the WOMD, who is also your very good friend. We sometimes know our skill and want to execute in perfection (and only then is there the luxury of worrying about the opinions of others) at other times we are not so sure about the skill level but still demand perfection. That is why it took over 300 hours to build an “heirloom” bassinet that should have taken 100 (heck I took two hours to select the Oak at Home Depot).
    I think that we can be our own worst enemy though filled with good intentions and expectations.
    Now I gotta stop grousing and go finish that Ballet Bar for the Wild Child. Don’t ask when I started it. I’d have no option other than a white lie.

Leave a Reply