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Happiness or Perfection

Author: Marc Gravelle, Certified Hypnotherapist and HMI Instructor

Marc Gravelle

Date Published:
Publisher: Hypnosis Motivation Institute

Do you know anyone, a friend, family member, co-worker or acquaintance who considers himself or herself a perfectionist? If so, have you ever noticed that they seem somewhat edgy, on guard or perhaps demanding?

We live in a very competitive world and it is important to have high personal and professional standards. However, when a person’s standard or goal is perfection, they may not realize that they are setting themselves up to experience more frustration, anxiety, and disappointment than is necessary. The goal of perfection is unrealistic.

There is very little in life that is perfect. To be human is to be imperfect.

There is a tapestry in the United Nations building by a Belgian artist, who purposely put imperfections into the artwork to signify that we live in an imperfect world. There is no perfect person, no perfect relationship, no perfect job, no perfect house, the list is endless.

What is Pefectionism?

The dictionary definition of perfectionism is “a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable.” Another definition could be “ a perfectionist expects themselves to be perfect, and others around them and events to be perfect.”

A perfectionist is constantly reaching for a goal that is always just a little beyond reach. That’s certainly setting oneself up for frustration and disappointment, and maybe unnecessary anxiety.

In her book, The Happiness Makeover, M. J. Ryan cites that “research has shown that perfectionists are less healthy, less happy, have less satisfying relationships, and even earn less than others.”

There are many “downsides” when a person seeks perfection as a goal. A perfectionist may avoid taking risks for fear that the outcome will not be perfect. This is a very limiting outlook and one looses the opportunity for learning from their mistakes and becomes “stuck”. It has often been said “no risk, no success.”

A person seeking the perfect relationship sabotages themselves from the beginning, as we know there is no “perfect relationship.”

Expecting others to do a perfect assignment or job is another pitfall of the perfectionist. This expectation can often trigger an anger/anxiety reaction from the perfectionist, creating intolerance that can be non-productive or hurtful in the workplace.


A reasonable solution to perfectionism is to replace the goal of perfection with a more realistic, attainable goal: excellence. In the Academy Awards they give the awards for “excellence” in acting etc., not perfection in acting.

Adopting the goal of excellence helps “take the edge off,” enabling a person to become more tolerant, understanding, and more solution oriented. The actor Michael J. Fox is quoted: “I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.”

Replacing the goal of perfection with the goal of excellence enables a person to actually enjoy their work or activity more because they let go of the pressure of having to do the task or activity perfectly. The less pressure a person feels, the better they function, and the better they can concentrate.

Worrying about how events will go is yet another pitfall of the perfectionist. The goal of excellence enables a person to worry less and thus experience less of the anxiety or stress that worrying creates.

An unfortunate attitude that some perfectionists adopt is that they “have to be right.” They don’t realize that when they have to be right (at any cost) they make others have to be wrong. This is not a productive way to handle business or personal relationships and can create disharmony. The goal of excellence enables one to not always “have to be right.”

Hypnotherapy Strategy

Hypnotherapy is an excellent modality to help the perfectionist replace that goal with a more realistic goal, excellence, that is achievable daily. The hypnotherapist guides the client into hypnosis (a hypersuggestable state of mind), while also guiding the client to relax their body. Then it is suggested to the client that they will replace the old goal with the goal of excellence, resulting in the experience of less anxiety, frustration and disappointment. This process enables the client to experience the change must faster than merely thinking about creating a change.

Big Payoff

The really big payoff of letting go of perfectionism and adopting excellence as a life goal is that a person will become generally happier. Let’s remember that generally happier people who operate with peace of mind live longer, experience less stress and anxiety, and are more successful in their relationships and other endeavors.