Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘psychology

Why Perfection is a Trap

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Have you ever heard from some well-meaning busybody, “Go back, and make it perfect?”

I know I have. And hearing those words didn’t help, because perfection — and the pursuit of it, perfectionism — is a trap.

See, nothing we human beings can do is perfect. Nothing whatsoever. We can only do our best. And try to make our best even better over time, of course…but that is not perfection, and it can’t be.

So, if you’re like me, and you are unwilling to admit that you can make errors — sometimes bad ones — that makes life difficult. Because perfection, as I said, is a trap; it makes you believe that nothing you do will ever matter, because you can’t be perfect, and yet you still must try.

Now, being excellent, striving for excellence, is indeed doable. And I urge you to do that very thing.

But trying for perfection? Um, no…not a good idea, because of what I’ve already said, and also because if for some reason you do hit someone else’s standard of what “perfect” actually means, you’ll end up never being able to satisfy that person again as no one can be at that high of a level all the time.

In my life, I’ve known a number of people who were incredibly encouraging and giving in spirit. None of them believed that you should try to be perfect.

Yet, partially because of my early training as a musician, I fear to make mistakes. (Even though I know I can make huge ones, as I said before.) I try over and over again to fix things that maybe don’t even need to be fixed; I try over and over again to explain myself, because I don’t think my initial explanation cut the mustard, even though it was perfectly understandable — and listening does take some energy, if you do it right, so me trying so hard to make myself understood is also a trap…hm.

At any rate, try to avoid the trap of perfectionism, or the will to be perfect all the time. Instead, accept that you will go for excellence instead — and that will be more than good enough.

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 25, 2018 at 5:14 pm

Just Reviewed Sam Sommers’ “Situations Matter” at SBR

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Folks, if you haven’t read Sam Sommers’ SITUATIONS MATTER: Understanding how Context Transforms Your World yet, you should.  I don’t care if you’re a writer, an editor, a reader — you will learn a great deal from this book and it will help you understand more about how situations can change how people behave, why sometimes people behave badly in crowds, and much, much more.

This is one of the best books I’ve ever read in my life on any subject.  It is witty, interesting, written in an engaging style, and was one of the few nonfiction books of the past year that I not only enjoyed wholeheartedly, but read three times just because I could.  To think that Sam Sommers, a professor of psychology at Tufts University, could write this well the first-time out (as this is his first work of long-form nonfiction) is astonishing.

Please see tonight’s review, which is up now at Shiny Book Review for your edification; then, seriously, go grab this book:


Written by Barb Caffrey

February 26, 2012 at 12:01 am