Perfectionism is a blessing but can also be a curse if not managed correctly. It can mean you are extremely thoughtful, pay attention to detail + are ambitious. But it also can have you up to all hours of the night, google-ing, analysing + dissecting every aspect of a situation and can leave you often disappointed with others. I think with any personality trait there is always a positive + negative. Today I am going to talk about the perfectionist + how it affects their relationships (as no one is ever good enough + if they are close, they better be the way you want them to be). Wow! How do I even have a husband + friends?! Haha. I think the main aim thing is, how to not get disappointed in others, adjusting your expectations and accepting people for who they are, even if it doesn’t feel right to you.
I have recently read the book ‘Expectation hangover: overcoming disappointment in work, love and life‘ by Christine Hassler. Hassler coined the term: You wouldn’t go to a Chinese restaurant and expect nachos. I lovvvvvvve this! It resinated so well with me + really helped me deal with relationships. So I will be using this analogy throughout my post.
Okay so you wouldn’t go to a Chinese restaurant and expect nachos, would you? You may expect really good rice, noodles or spring rolls. This is because they have these ingredients to make these dishes. They use them all the time, they have perfected them, and more importantly this is what they are known for. Now if you go there expecting to get nachos, you will be disappointed. Imagine sitting down reading a menu and realising there is no nachos or asking the waiter for nachos and them saying, no we don’t have it. You will be disappointed and you won’t even be able to enjoy what they cook well because you are distracted from the ingredients they lack. This is the same as people. Think of a friend, family member or colleague. They are the restaurant (we will continue to use a Chinese restaurant for now). Now think about their qualities (these are their ingredients). For example, your friend may be social, bubbly and lots of fun but they aren’t a good listener or they aren’t thoughtful and can be selfish. You love spending time with them but walk away feeling deflated at times because they don’t pay attention to what you are saying, talk over you or only talk about themselves. So this person’s ingredients are (social, bubbly, fun) like the Chinese restaurant (rice, soy sauce, noodles) but they don’t serve (thoughtfulness, selflessness or listening on their menu) ie. they don’t have the ingredients (corn chips, sour cream and guacamole). So why expect it?
Once you establish their ingredients / qualities, ask yourself when you are looking for advice or sharing information about yourself, what exactly do you expect a person to say or do (let’s face it perfectionist – you know the answer to this one before you even ask the question, that is why you are a perfectionist, you already know how you want someone to react). So what are you looking for? Compassion, empathy, acknowledgment, praise, kindness, understanding? Then ask yourself does this person have these ingredients / qualities ? If they don’t, don’t go to them.
You would expect all restaurants (people) to have the basics – water and flour (kindness and respect). But in some cases the quality of these ingredients may be lacking and if that is the case, why would you want to eat there anyway?
Now sometimes you can go to a Chinese restrauent and expect good rice (like going to a friend who is always empathetic) but sometimes the rice isn’t nice or what you expected, like a friend, they might not give you what you need. It could just be a bad day in the kitchen, a tiny mistake, but if you keep going back to that same restrauent and the rice isn’t good, then they have changed their ingredients. But remember the first time you experience ‘bad rice’ from your favourite Chinese restaurant, you will be very disappointed. There is no escaping this, but you would be silly to think after three bad experiences, that their rice is good, they obviously have changed their ingredients therefore you have to change your expectations. People change, so you will have to adjust your expectations.
Sometimes you have no choice but to eat at particular restaurant whether it is a family restaurant or work canteen or function. Even though the meal may have you feeling ill afterwards (because their ‘basics’ of flour or water ie kindness + respect are lacking), you know this so you can expect it therefore the disappointment or shock isn’t as bad.
Your partner is like an all you can eat restaurant, you should be able to expect all ingredients however when you don’t specialise in a particular meal/cuisine it isn’t always perfect. Sometimes the steak is great (praise) but the pasta is cold (empathy). But usually you pick a great a la carte place, so their quality is usually always spot on or cooked to your liking.
Remember that some people like the rice at a particular restrauent (crunchy with lots of veggies) but you might prefer your rice soft with egg, therefore someone might believe someone has a particular ingredient/quality but you may think otherwise which is also ok.
Just like deciding on what you want to eat for dinner, if the restrauent doesn’t have your dishes you feel like eating, don’t go to that restrauent. (You can also prefer a certain restrauent over another and that is ok).
What ingredients / qualities do people in your life / circle have? List their top 10.
It is important to list their ingredients so you are focusing on THEIR ingredients (you wouldn’t list what restrauents don’t have, only what they have to offer), you might say Chinese is cheap, has rice, noodles, and soup, NOT Chinese doesn’t have pasta, zucchini flowers, lasagna, nice decor (but hey you might like Chinese decor 😉