When misfortune and tragedy strike, it is wise to avoid the delusion of perfectionism. The belief that you should do something flawlessly or not at all is erroneous, unrealistic, and counter-productive.
When misfortune strikes
the fact that television and magazines are full of recommendations to
be positive, have confidence, and hope for better times, perfectionism
and the accompanying discouragement are rampant in contemporary society,
possibly more than in any previous era of humanity. Few are able to keep
a cool head when they face continuous obstacles. Frustration derived
from hardship frequently leads people to give up their ambitions.
is a dangerous fantasy to be avoided at all costs. Already in the year
326 BC, Aristotle observed that a balanced life perspective is a
prerequisite for attaining happiness. Unfortunately, nowadays, the voice
of the philosopher is long forgotten. Millions of men and women face
misfortune with anxiety and depression.
In order to overcome
adversity, man needs a rational response. Expecting flawless performance
every time leads to obsessive behaviour, excessive preoccupation, and
nihilism. None of those approaches work. None of them has ever improved
The rational approach
Obsessive behaviour and excessive preoccupation will
narrow your ambitions to the minimum and push you to waste hours on
meaningless details. Nihilism, on the other hand, will deprive your life
of direction, replacing ambition with neglect, and drive with
dereliction. Under this philosophy, your vision will be reduced to
perceiving, from everything, the worst. Convictions will turn into
derision. Purpose will be wiped out by random decisions.
rational approach to dealing with personal difficulties begins with
discarding perfectionism. Errors are normal events in human action and
you are unique in your genetic characteristics and personal
circumstances. When things don't work out as expected, do not compare
yourself with other people or with unrealistic standards of achievement.
Such irrational comparisons bring nothing but misery.
Let go of
chimerical expectations and make the best of your situation. Look for
practical solutions. Assess different alternatives. Make a workable plan
and implement it. In any case, you should abandon perfectionism right
now, since its drawbacks dwarf its negligible advantages.
Surmounting major obstacles
long-term action enables man to surmount major obstacles. Do no waste
time with lamentations and wishful thinking. Keep on advancing on your
chosen path and do not look back on past mistakes, except for drawing
lessons for the future.
If you look around, you will find plenty
of examples of people who have succeeded despite overwhelming burdens.
Throw away expectations of immediate and flawless achievement. Maintain
your serenity and trust the principle of cause and effect.
offers no guarantee of success, intelligent persistence has repeatedly
proven to work. Can you extract some gain from each mistake? Time will
wash away embarrassment and pain, but the teachings will remain.
For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living
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