From a very young age, we are “all” conditioned by perfectionism. To act in a perfect way and according to the standards of our parents, society, our teachers, later on our friends and partners.

We all need to be accepted, integrated and loved. The problem is that we systematically seek to be or to become perfect, as if the person we are is not complete enough to be considered in its entirety.

I am not saying that we should not change or improve certain aspects of our personality or our life. Evolution is a common factor to all of us, and fortunately, we all have the ability to question, adapt and change what is holding us back.

I just want us to realize the importance of knowing failure. In life, failure is inevitable: it is even a crucial aspect of any successful existence. If we don’t learn to fail, we fail to learn.

Failure is often perceived as something negative. This is not the case. EINSTEIN said this about this: ” You never fail until you stop trying”.

Facing difficulties and taking the risk of failure promotes self-confidence. Failure makes us stronger and more lucid.

One cannot truly know oneself, nor test the strength of one’s attachments, if one has never passed the test of adversity.[1]

We all have the right to make mistakes, to change, to start over and to take opposite directions. What prevents us, among other things, from taking the plunge and taking risks when we want to start a new activity or become an auto-entrepreneur, is fear.

“The biggest mistake is to be afraid to be wrong” – Elbert HUBBARD

But what exactly are we afraid of?

The main characteristic of the perfectionist is the fear of failure. His first concern is to fall, to deviate, to stumble, to stray from the goal. For him, the only thing that matters is to reach his goal.

We are afraid of not being up to the task, of being judged, of being misperceived, of not being capable. The list can become endless. But when it comes to embarking on a new experience, we are mostly afraid of failing.

We feel that our project or idea is not perfect or optimal enough for us to succeed. In this way we censor ourselves and refuse to give ourselves the opportunity to try, since we forget that we have the right to make mistakes.

In life there are no good or bad choices but just opportunities with different results.

The fear of failure sometimes makes us regret it. In some cases, our decisions turn out to be harmful and irrevocable, such as choosing a career that does not fulfill us, a life that does not make us happy.

Perfectionism leads to procrastination and paralysis. The perfectionist puts off certain tasks temporarily (procrastination) or permanently (paralysis). “If I don’t do anything, I won’t miss.

The quest for perfection can be sickly and lead to a life filled with dissatisfaction. For example, we will spend hours preparing a file at work under the pretext that it is not “perfect” for broadcasting, or impose activities that exhaust us for fear of saying no and not being “perfect” for our friends or family.

The rigidity of the perfectionist is due, at least in part, to his obsessive need to control everything. For the perfectionist, the most direct way to achieve excellent results is to achieve perfection.

How can we cure ourselves of perfectionism and fear of failure?

I invite you to learn about imperfection, to let go of control and to live “optimalism” according to the philosophy of Tal Ben-Shahar. It is about not being afraid to be yourself, to accept yourself as you are and to value the journey more than the destination.

Try optimalism, accept imperfection, focus on your strengths and abilities, allow yourself to change your mind or to go back on what you thought was right for you.

We are already complete and unique despite our flaws and we don’t need to adopt masks or make concessions on what is not in line with our values, just for fear of being rejected. Paradoxically, to take detours to avoid certain emotions is to decrease one’s chances of being happy.

A maladaptive perfectionist is an adaptable perfectionist and therefore a good candidate for optimism. The perfectionist refuses failure while the optimist accepts it.

The optimist knows that “deviating from the path” is not always negative, it can lead him to make choices, to learn lessons that otherwise might not have been identified.

It is our way of seeing things that makes the world a hell or a heaven. “To dare is to lose your footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.

[1] Some sentences in order to enrich this article have been extracted from the book “Learning about imperfection” Thal Ben-Shahar


Claudia Reynaud

Chief Happiness Officer