Is perfectionism a blessing or a fashionable disease?

The plane of Air New Zealand, which was heading from Los Angeles to London, was heading for the runway and was already starting to gain speed, when suddenly the pilot abruptly pressed the brakes. As it turned out, a bird got into the turbine cavity, and it could simply lead to a catastrophe. The plane was returned to the airport building as a matter of urgency, and the frightened passengers crashed to death. All – except for one passenger, who flew first class, accompanied by a bodyguard and two sons. Despite the announced alarm, the passenger, who had managed to wash off her make-up and put on her pajamas before the long flight, flatly refused to leave the salon until she changed back into her designer clothes and made a fuss. And when the other passengers prayed, thank God for miraculously escaping destruction,


Victoria Beckham

You know this passenger, her name is Victoria Beckham. For me, I must admit, this episode is on the verge of absurdity. However, Victoria can be understood: she is a very, very public figure. The height of her heels, the shape of her glasses and the color of her face are discussed at least as often as the US presidential election and the liquidity crisis of bank assets. It is much harder for me to understand my friend Katya, who last summer tried to hike in the Austrian Alps with perfect makeup and Jimmy Choo sandals. At the same time, Katya is not a Rublev girl. She is a serious girl who has been running her own company with a couple of dozen subordinates for more than five years. “I can’t do otherwise,” she explains. “When I leave home, no matter where or why, I have to look perfect.” Look – that’s not all. The pursuit of perfection permeates her entire life – from the interior of a newly purchased apartment on Kutuzov Avenue (where the ball is white, and when I’m there, I’m afraid not to sit, but even to breathe: I’m constantly tormented by anxiety – and suddenly I remember something, break, get dirty, break a glass of Christofle or pour red wine on a couch Fendi ivory) to her business, where there has always been a terrible flow of staff. Subordinates, who consider Katya a bitch (she admits it herself), are chronically unable to cope with her demands. True, the business is booming. Smash a glass of Christofle or pour red wine on a couch Fendi ivory) to her business, where there has always been a terrible flow of staff. Subordinates who consider Katya a bitch (she admits it herself), turn out to be chronically unable to cope with her demands. True, the business is booming. Smash a glass of Christofle or pour red wine on a couch Fendi ivory) to her business, where there has always been a terrible flow of staff. Subordinates, who consider Katya a bitch (she admits it herself), are chronically unable to cope with her demands. True, business is booming.

It has always been difficult for me to understand my friend Victoria, a PR director at a large international company. When she has an aura at work – and it happens almost all the time – Vika… disappears from life. She moves to the office, comes earlier and leaves later than everyone else, sometimes even spending the night there, forgetting about her husband, girlfriends and, of course, about herself. “I’m a responsible person,” says Victoria. – Like me, no one will do the job. And just “good” does not suit me. ” Vika, by the way, does not hide that she has been putting up such a bar since childhood.

“Back in school, when I got fours, it always seemed to me that everything, life was over. Although my younger sister never steamed because of grades or anything else, and her ambitions, like mine, did not haunt her. She just enjoyed it. And I have always lived in the future, from project to project. ”

What is it, who is it


People who always strive to achieve perfection in everything are called perfectionists (from the Latin perfectus-perfect). Perfectionists are distinguished by a set of qualities that are individually quite positive, but together form a mixture that is sometimes life-threatening for both its owner and his environment. High demands on yourself and others, increased attention to small things, stubbornness, pedantry, the desire to always do everything “on the top five with a plus” (this is also called the “excellent student complex”), an almost paranoid fear of making a mistake and losing the favor of other people because of this, an extremely painful attitude to criticism, hyper-responsiveness, desire to controlling everything and not being able to delegate authority … True, psychologists say that all these qualities are just a consequence, the tip of the iceberg,and the main reason for the eternal pursuit of the ideal is quite banal: self-rejection. Although perfectionism is called the “disease of the XXI century”, it is still not a disease, but a character trait. The latter, as you know, is formed in childhood – at the age of 3-6 years, we have attitudes that we will unconsciously be guided by all our lives, unless, of course, one day we consciously decide to reconsider them. Parents of future perfectionists, as a rule, pay much more attention to the shortcomings and mistakes of the child than to his merits and successes, and often compare him with other children. As a result, the child decides that in order to earn the love of his parents, it is not enough for him to be just good – he needs to be perfect. “Perfectionism is a type of defensive behavior,” explains Vadim Petrovsky,PhD,a well-known psychotherapist. – A person tries to always be on top, so as not to face their own fears – to be nobody, to be nothing. This, in general, is a manifestation of parental directives: “If you don’t get an A, nothing will come of you.”


Virus or bacterium?

When the editorial staff started discussing who perfectionists are and why they need it, a heated argument broke out. As it turned out, everyone has their own idea of perfectionism: what seems to one to be an exorbitant idealism, for another-the norm of life. “Perfectionists are girls who manage to wear all white in winter and not get dirty,”said our photo editor Masha Evseeva. I heartily agree with her: white is my favorite color, so at least three phones of different dry cleaners are recorded in my mobile phone, my white coat Makhmagza was cleaned as much as four times last winter! And in general, this disease is female. When we all began to remember famous perfectionists, there were many more ladies among them than gentlemen. Among the men, to be honest, we remembered one Leo Tolstoy, who rewrote “Anna Karenina” very many times-until one day his wife Sofya Andreyevna took the existing version to publishers. Psychologists agree with our observations:” I have long had the impression that girls in our culture are literally programmed to be ‘perfect’, ” says Vadim Petrovsky. “Boys are allowed to commit many more sins.”History knows a lot of perfectionists, so this is not such a new disease. What is the price of Queen Cleopatra, who, dying, ordered to dress herself up and make up in order to go to a better world, as they say, “on parade”. Or Coco Chanel, who forced female models to stand on their feet for eight hours straight-she perfected sketches of her products not on the table, but with the help of “nature”. By the way, Chanel has a significant phrase: “If a woman approaches me with unpainted lips, I will not even talk to her.” Singers Madonna and Christina Aguilera, actresses Jane Fonda, Lyudmila Gurchenko, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston publicly call themselves perfectionists. “As a child, I always looked at famous actresses,” Aniston admits in an interview. – Their hair, clothes, make-up seemed to me the epitome of perfection.I would give anything to look like them.” The result of her efforts was anorexia.

In recent years, many ordinary women have also become infected with the perfectionism virus. Alice Dolmar, a professor at Harvard University and a well-known writer in America, in her new book entitled “To be happy without being perfect, or How to get rid of the deception of perfectionism” (Be Happy Without Being Perfect. How To Break Free From the Perfectionism Deception) writes the following: “The average woman today constantly feels dissatisfied because she compares herself to others. She looks at herself in the mirror and instead of seeing beautiful skin and healthy hair, she sees ” too small breasts.” Women often tell themselves that in order to be happy, it is not enough for them to have harmonious relationships – they also need perfect children, not a speck of dust at home, not a job, but a dream, and friends who are not ashamed. They will never be happy with such requests.”


Quiz: How much of a perfectionist are you?

And yet, maybe it’s not so bad to wish that everything in life was not just good, but excellent? Individual qualities of perfectionists are quite worthy of respect: these people are disciplined and hardworking (although there are many of them who like to put things off for a long time, not wanting to start working in fear of making a mistake and failing), patient, accurate, persistent, diligent, they can be relied upon, they know what to do. they are willing, ambitious, and ambitious. Perfectionists are usually loved and appreciated by their superiors, but are quietly hated by their colleagues and subordinates. But I’m more inclined to agree with the writer Somerset Maugham, who once said that ” perfectionists have one drawback: they are incredibly boring.” In love, perfectionists are not the most accommodating people – those who do not love themselves, it is even more difficult to love another.In their partner, they will always look for flaws, compete with him in everything, if, of course, there is a partner at all – perfectionists often spend many years in pursuit of the ideal.

If we assume that perfectionism is not a disease, there is no particular need to treat it – at least if this property does not cause you discomfort. Psychotherapist Vadim Petrovsky, however, admits that he has many clients who have earned themselves serious neuroses and other problems just on the basis of perfectionism. “First of all,” he explains, ” I help these people learn to say to themselves:” I’m good enough.'” However, it may not reach the therapist. As experience shows, many born “excellent students” at some point break down and start grabbing deuces one by one, while experiencing great pleasure. “For many years, I believed that I always had to prove something-to myself and others, “says Vika (the one who” lives “in the office as soon as an accident happens). “Only then, as I thought, would I be worthy of respect and love.” I didn’t really know who I was, and I honestly thought I was what I’d achieved. I’ve been ticking boxes all my life .”

By the way, Vicki’s “ticks” were not just “ticks”, but a Princeton diploma, a sports category in swimming, a senior position in a large company, etc. “And now I’m tired,” she continues. “I want to finally start living.” Curiously, Victoria recently resigned from the position of PR director and now sits at home. She is not going to look for a new job yet, dreaming of having three children in the next couple of years. I hope that she will not treat the upbringing of potential children as just another” tick ” or business project.

In the famous book “Fight Club “(which was later made into a movie with Brad Pitt and Edward Norton) Chuck Palahniuk makes fun of the modern man’s dependence on kansumerism and the cult of fashion brands, as well as the eternal pursuit of the perfect appearance, the “right” job and high social status. “I don’t want to be complete anymore, I don’t want to be satisfied anymore, I don’t want to be perfect,” says the main character, a white – collar worker who is going through an existential crisis. As a result, he dynamites his perfectly “packed” apartment and creates a “Fight Club” that declares war on the perfectionism that its members see embodied in today’s consumer society.

Photo: Getty Images


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