This series will look at a small snippet of The book on the Perfectionist Personality, aka The Obsessive Compulsive disordered Personality, aka OCPD, each week. Please follow along, leave your comments, engage more on the FaceBook website... whatever your heart calls you to do.
Too Perfect, When Being in Control Gets Out of Control by Allan E. Mallinger, M.D. and Jeanette DeWyze was published by Random House in 1992. If you believe you are dealing with OCPD or someone who is "Too Perfect," whether that's you or a loved one, please buy a copy of the book and read it for additional insights that will not all be covered in these excerpts.
CRITIQUING THE CRITIC<snip> As with any habit, the key to change lies in increasing your awareness. A habit survives by being sneaky - an automatic part of you that you don't even notice. Don't let it continue being automatic. <snip> Change it!
First, catch yourself as often as possible thinking judgmental thoughts about your spouse, child, or employee. Notice how unpleasant the feeling is - the disappointment, resentment, or disgust you are experiencing. Even the momentary self-righteous boost to your own self-esteem is hollow and painful. Acknowledge that your assessment might be accurate: that your child, for instance, really does bite his nails, or have a slight lisp. Then notice that having made the observation is doing you no good whatsoever; that this habit hurts and it has few redeeming qualities compared with the devastation it causes.
<snip> [Various techniques to snap out of it detailed here]
One thing that perpetuates the bad habit is the fact that you have erroneously come to equate intelligence with your ability to find fault, so the fault-finding is hard to give up. <snip> ironically, one of your biggest faults - your pickiness - is painfully obvious to everyone, and it pushes people away.
Keep asking yourself what good your hypocritical nature is doing you versus what it costs. Your child or spouse may be imperfect, but that doesn't mean you have to do anything about it, nor will your being upset change anything. You are making yourself unhappy unnecessarily. If you have a legitimate and constructive gripe, fine. Express it. But don't cripple your relationships out of a need to be preoccupied with what's wrong; with effort, it becomes just as easy to focus on what's right. <snip>
Better Than Perfect
<snip> You don't have to know everything or perform according to some mythical specification in order to be worthwhile, loved, or happy.
Who ever taught you otherwise? What genius convinced you that you should never make mistakes? Or that making mistakes proves something is wrong with you? <snip> And who is doing that to you now?
In some cases, if someone has have asked for your help, it may be okay to help them. "Sally, please look at this grocery list and see if I've forgotten anything," or "Can you read this short story and see if if makes sense to you?"
When you are always ripping people a new one, or jumping in to "help" when they have not asked for your assistance, it doesn't result in making them emotionally closer to you. How do you feel about the people who find fault with you?
If you want people to feel close to you, to respect and perhaps, even love you, being critical is not the way to go. It's like gargling with garlic to freshen your breath.
Unless you are The Critic, who is sort of adorable, but even he'd be hard to take 24/7.
As Too Perfect points out, who is telling you that if you're not perfect you won't be loved? Is it someone outside yourself (who, perhaps has distorted thinking)? Or is it your very own critic you've fed, raised, and cared for inside your head?
Time to tell the inner critic to STFU, or give him/her an eviction notice.
Have you ever gotten in the bad habit of criticizing others
to distract from your own faults?
to distract from your own faults?
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