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Date: 2012-04-18 22:37:48
Social Butterfly Club Monthly Newsletter Jan 2012

Too Perfect: When being in control gets out of control

Following my mother’s advice, I hired a professional career coach to help me find some direction and see if I’m on the right path. I worked with Joanne Loberg from for two weeks upon Andreas Hesse from Clear HR Consulting’s referral, and gained quite a new perspective. I learned that when evaluating a job, I have to look beyond the task list to see if it’s a match to my skills and experience. I must research the corporate culture and find out their company values. Ultimately, that’s how I will continue to find my job exciting, challenging, and meaningful and won’t get exhausted and unmotivated.

In the process, I did a 360-degree feedback, and from that I learned a lot about my own limitations and areas that need improvement from past clients, managers, co-workers, friends, and mentors. It was a gift that will keep on giving for many years to come. One thing I did learn is that companies don’t like to hire perfectionists. I always prided on being a perfectionist, of my attention to detail, exceeding the customer’s expectations, and result of my work. Joanne enlightened me to the other side’s perspective. She told me that employers often feel that perfectionists tend to be demanding employees, who take time from supervisors, are critical to peers, and generally harder to get along with. They like to be right, and do things their way, and they tend to burn out. This led to other conversations regarding what motivates me, what are my values….. It was really refreshing to have Joanne analyze with me some of my shortcomings, and potential pitfalls. I did two tests, and she showed me my strengths and weaknesses, and what career paths are suitable for me. The good news is I’m on the right path, but I need to find organizations with similar values as mine.

Joanne also introduced the concept of counselling to me, and said that everyone can benefit from counselling. I was a bit puzzled, since I thought counselling and therapy are for people who suffer from mental issues or experienced great trauma. Joanne indicated that whatever issue we cannot revolve at home, we bring those needs and wants to our workplace and often that can be disruptive. She suggests regular counselling is good maintenance for everyone’s mental health. I have been seeing a counsellor regularly for the past two months, and some things in my life were brought to the surface through my sessions, but I don’t feel like I’ve learned anything or gained any new insight from my counsellor. She’s a nice woman who listens to my stories and tries to be emotionally supportive, and nothing more. I much prefer friends with something to say.

This led to me reading more psychology books…. A fascinating one is on perfectionist. “Too Perfect: When being in control gets out of control” by Jeannette Dewyze (Author), Allan Mallinger (Author).

I was floored by the description of behaviour in the book, as I saw many of the traits in myself, my mother, and even friends of mine. One intriguing thing was that some perfectionist never take action, they’re constantly contemplating the options and are forever stuck in the decision making process. Whereas some perfectionists take action and then uncommit or get out of it later so they think they’re in control of the situation. The book elaborated on people with obsessive-compulsive behaviour, how they like to be constantly in control, because they feel out of control. Even dealing with the author who is a well trained Psychologist, they don’t like to answer questions, but ask lots of questions, or play phone tag on purpose to make sure the meeting time is within their control. They will also run away from therapy after they have gotten comfortable and revealed some personal information. They feel like they’re losing the upper hand in that relationship, so they chose to exit.

The author relayed that perfectionist and obsessive compulsive patients shared similar stories of being children of very demanding parents, who give them conditional love.

I only recently realized that I have been living in fear of rejection and the feeling of not being good enough all my life. Despite my outward confidence, this feeling of inadequacy is probably a very common feeling. I suspect it has something to do with the millions of messages advertisers and media send telling us how fat, ugly, stupid, etc, etc we are, and that we need to buy their product in order to live a normal life. Just think about how many people you know are currently on a diet, or detox, or trying to lose their 5-10 lbs through exercise. I see now, this feeling of inadequacy is the source of all addiction, violent outburst, etc. It’s a big void within us that we must fulfill or replace with pleasure/adrenalin to reach the semblance of normalcy. Because that is a belief so deeply rooted and what you truly believe, no amount of compliments or flattery will cheer you up. It feels like a downpour without an umbrella; you’re soaked from head to toe and no one would even look at you, never mind offer you to come in.

Isn’t it funny that this feeling also makes us disempowered, so that we don’t take action politically, or against abuse, etc… because we tolerate as much abuse as what is congruent to our inner belief about ourselves. So if I truly believe I’m undesirable, and unworthy of love, I will allow all sorts of abuse into my life, including institutional injustice about my basic human rights. So our worst enemy is not anyone outside of ourselves.

A friend rightly pointed out, we can all inspire one another by sharing our own stories of triumph over hardship, yet when we’re in our own shit, we cannot see it or pull ourselves out of it. That’s why community is so important, and friendship is critical. Because outward success is completely irrelevant to how a person feels inside. Yet, only how we feel inside will ultimately determine if we’ll live a happy and healthy life.

I hope in the month of January and February, which are most susceptible for people to get depressed, that you keep on telling your story, and explore the love in your life, and most above all, to remember that happiness starts with you, not your relationship, your friends, your job, just you! And if you’re suffering the blues, reach out, you’re not alone, and you’re well loved.
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