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Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN

Do you want to be perfect? Do you get angry when life is not perfect? Spotlight looks at people who try to make everything perfect.

Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Anne Muir.

Voice 2

And I’m Ryan Geertsma. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

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Voice 3

“My driver’s license came up for renewal. I needed to take a written test of the traffic laws. For days, I studied a little book of all the rules. My boyfriend David would try to persuade me to spend time with him. He wanted me to join him for a walk or to go to a party or even just to talk. I told him I could not take the time. Of course, I got perfect marks on the test. I ran to tell David. “My love,” he said, “why would you want to do that?” It was not the response I had expected. Suddenly I understood that I had sacrificed a great deal for a test that was not very important. I had spent days studying for it that I could have spent in much better ways.”

Voice 1

This story is from Rachel Naomi Remen. She is from the United States. In that country, every driver must take a written test to get a driving license. But this test is not difficult. And the driver only needs to pass the test. A perfect result does not matter! Remen’s efforts to study were extreme – and unnecessary. This was a sign that Remen had a problem.

Voice 2 

Today, Remen is a doctor who studies human health and emotions. She also calls herself a “recovering perfectionist.” That means she used to be a perfectionist, but she is trying not to be one now. She tells the story of her driving test to show the problems of trying to be perfect. What is a perfectionist? Why was it so important to Remen to get a perfect result on her driving test? Today’s Spotlight is on being perfect.

Voice 1

Perfectionism is a very complex behaviour. It is part of a person’s character or personality. Perfectionists always try to do everything perfectly – without any mistakes, errors or faults. Some perfectionists may expect other people around them to be perfect too. On her website, Dr. Remen says:

woman staring into broken mirror
Photo by Allef Vinicius
Voice 3

“Before I began recovering from perfectionism I felt that I was always falling short. And so was everyone else. Who we were and what we did was never quite good enough. I sat in judgment on life itself. Perfectionism is the belief that life is broken.”

Voice 2 

Many cultures place a high value on working to achieve perfect results. It can be good to always aim to be excellent. For example, some sports people may be perfectionists. They work hard for the best possible result. They try to perform perfectly in a competition. People also think the famous artist Michelangelo was a perfectionist. This quality probably helped him create his amazing works of art. Sometimes we even depend on the high expectations of perfectionists. For example, when a specialist is performing a surgery on our hearts, we would like it to be perfect.

Photo by Dries Augustyns
Voice 1 

But perfectionism can often have negative results. Some people feel that they need to be perfect. They have very high expectations for themselves. Perfectionists measure their worth, or value, by how well they do everything. This kind of perfectionism can even become a mental disorder. Experts have identified three different kinds of perfectionism.

Voice 2 

The first kind of perfectionism is based on the self. This is when a person requires himself to be perfect. Then, when he fails to do this, he is very disappointed. A man named Paul told his story about this kind of perfectionism to the Mental Health Foundation:

Voice 4 

“I had been trying to do too much, too well and trying to please too many people. I had been expecting too much of myself for too long and putting too much pressure on myself. I was creating too much stress. That is a lot of ‘too muches’ for one person. I stopped looking forward to anything. I felt like I was useless and hopeless.”

Voice 1 

Another kind of perfectionist expects other people to be perfect. People in relationships with the perfectionist often feel that they are always being criticized. They may feel that they can never be good enough to be loved. Kathy Miller is a perfectionist. She gives a small example of how her husband was never perfect enough for her:

Voice 5 

“One night I returned home from shopping. My husband, met me at the door, smiling. He led me into the kitchen and announced, “I washed the dishes for you!” As I put my arms around him and said, “Thank you!” I looked over his shoulder. I noticed pieces of food and drops of liquid on the table. “But you have not cleaned the table!” I thought. “You have not finished the job!”

Voice 2 

A third kind of perfectionism relates to social conditions. This kind of perfectionist believes that other people expect her to be perfect. This kind of perfectionism often begins when children have very demanding parents. Doctor Randy Frost has studied perfectionism for many years. He tells the magazine Psychology Today:

Photo by Icons8 Team 
Voice 6 

“Overly demanding and judgemental parents put a lot of pressure on children to achieve. Our studies show that is connected to perfectionism. Sometimes the parent is happy only when the child achieves something or spends a lot of time working at something. The parent’s high expectations are not spoken out loud but they are made clear by the environment.”

Voice 1 

All three of these kinds of perfectionism can have negative effects. Perfectionism can lead to other emotional problems such as depression, using too much alcohol or other drugs, eating disorders or even suicide. Perfectionism can also be connected to other physical problems such as stress problems and heart conditions. However, there are many ways to reduce the need to be perfect. Ann Smith wrote a book called “Overcoming Perfectionism.” She gives some good ideas about having healthier expectations:

Voice 7 

“The change starts with acknowledging our humanness. We learn to accept the best and worst of who we are. Some things about us will never change. Other parts of ourselves may be altered by life experiences. In the meantime, you are good enough for today – perfectly imperfect.”

Voice 2 

It is not easy to stop being a perfectionist. Remember Kathy Miller who was not happy with her husband, even when he was helping her? She says that she is trying not to expect perfection. Her Christian faith has helped her to accept her husband, and herself. Miller writes:

Voice 5 

“Giving myself grace has been a slow growth process. But I believe that God understands our mistakes. And he is willing to forgive them. We can stop expecting too much from ourselves and others.  You and I are already perfect in God’s sight. We have nothing to prove. We are accepted.”

Voice 1 

The writers of this program were Marina Santee and Rena Dam. The producer was Rena Dam. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can find our programs on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called ‘Being Perfect’.

Voice 2 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Do you try to do things perfectly? Do you think it is good to try to be perfect? Write your answer in the comments below.

Join the discussion

60 comments
  • Yes I am. i always pursue perfection that leads me disapointed, despressed so many times. Now I am a Mom of one year old daughter and I make an effort to not put pressure on my child.

  • honestly ,,yes I try to do any think perfectly much as possible ,, I know its not good to try be perfect this well but you on pressure all your life

  • Yes ., I do . I want to be perfect in graphic design and speak English very well. I think it’s a good to try to be perfect in these . It’s made our job like graphic designer or when I speak English very well I can complete studing and travel to another country it’s speak English

  • being perfect is such an impossible thing because no one is perfect literally no one! so lets accept our mistakes and live in peace. amazing episode

  • Honestly, yes I was trying. But it was really difficult to be perfect in all things you do. Harnessing efforts on something to be perfected its really hard.

  • Mmm.. not really. I just try to do the best as I can. Of course, I want it to be perfect also, but I know when and where my limit is

  • – Yes , I do , actually I thank that I suffer from perfectionism , I wanna be perfect in everything in my entire life .

    – No , I don’t that’s healthier for ourselves . That will make us feel disappointed

  • Yes, i doing the things to be good and perfect and also i put plan when this things not did perfect.
    So i think I can do perfect and when fail to do that os not matter i will try to do that again

  • actually, I always bing perfect in my school and I hate that.
    Do everything in a good way make me A very nervous person.
    so, now I always try to be not now.

  • i don’t want be a perfectionist it’s a complicated thing in the world , the human in this earth must believe that there is a destiny for each one , that never be change in all the life , so my solution is don’t be a perfectionist and leave the people love you and stop expect for people to be a perfectionist too .
    thank you

  • Through this topic, I think I am a perfectionist. I hope everything perfectly, example, I can not accept if my clothes have a dirty, or I will shout my partners if the work is not my hopes. But, when I have a baby, I will not do this with them.

  • The definition of perfect is: (something) complete and without defect or blemish. I feel like the word “perfect” has caused more harm than the “good” it’s supposed to mean. When people hear the word perfect, they assume that they can’t make mistakes. They feel like they can’t be normal because a “normal” person makes mistakes, but a “perfect” person doesn’t. When people label someone as perfect they are limiting them to who they really want to be and what they want to do. They feel like they have to be that “perfect” person that everyone looks up to.

  • I think I am a perfectionist . I always try to do everything perfect and do everything by myself and don’t ask for help from others . I hate myself when I make mistakes . I put alot of pressure on myself and that affect my health . Also I expect others to be perfect . I think its good to try to be perfect but not like that

    • This is a too much , don’t do it to you self
      “I remember my friend and she had a health problems , and depression and her heir become a gray , that was only because her pressure on herself to be perfect on studies

  • yes i a’m try study langug becus i want have proveshnal languge and i do thes \
    exactle and i want to say some advase around thes programe you dont wore abuot when can you berfectiy

  • Yeah always I try to do perfectly especially in education and my marks. It is not good to try to be perfect because this can be painful for your feelings

    Example: when I study all the week to get full mark then, I had mistake in my exam, I will be fell bad

  • Actually yes , I really want to do everything perfectly and I know that that isn’t healthy In fact that hurts me and I just want to make my dreams real So I need to do everything perfectly but I’m pretty sure that I don’t that most of the time I just hope to have the able to accept myself

  • I tried to be perfect before,but then i said stop ,Iam just a human being and am not supposed to be perfect.When i think like that I feel much better .

  • Of course, I try my best in every things I do. I believe that no one is perfect. In the past if l didn’t get the results I want that would make sad, but know Iam in a peace with all I have, I stop blaming my self since I work hard

  • Hello
    yes i do like To be perfect in my work in my studies and always get the high marks and thats put me in pressures trying to please others,i do think that being perfect is not helthier for our imotional THANK YOU SPTLIGHT for that programme because it gonna not only me but a lot of personnes that are obssece with perfectionism .

  • Actually, I work effort become my work perfect and then mistake, this feel my useless and hopeless and put my under pressure even when clean the house or prepare lunch. I try change myself because this only way to avoid depression and disorders mental. And accept myself and other people and try to deal my failure, this way renewal my life, that perfection .

  • Yes I do. I want to be a fluent speaker in English and Chinese , also be perfect in anything to do. It’s good to try to be perfect but “following the middle path is a virtue”.
    One of the human instincts is to be the best but you can’t always get what you want.

  • I keep trying to be perfect in all things I do, but At the same time I believe perfect can not be in all situations.

  • yes i am trying a period of time , in my ootd do my all efforts to being beauty , gorgeous, no body left a negative comments about my style .
    no at all with experience its so hard ,after when i tried this i mean to being perfect
    the whole day waiting someone make me feel good when he/she euloge me ,about my ootd
    if that day i didnt listen to this words from they others of course i will be sad

  • Yes, I am trying to do things perfectly as possible but I do not sid when I can not. I believe that God is with me.

  • I worked really hard to do things perfectly but I’m not expected a lot of myself ,so if i do something in bad way , i try again and do it in perfect way.

  • Yes I am, but honestly is too difficult to be perfect. I lost many things because I want be a perfect and I keep trying put me under stress. Finally I realised the perfectionism it’s not possible and make the person a depressed. My advice do extreme effort to be happy not perfect.

  • yes i’m try to do every thing in my life by perfect way.. that is very hard to me but when i do some thing or accive goal i feel that is not enogth and is not good i must to do this a gain and again… i do this for long time even to tried and i feel very sad

  • In the past i tried to do things in the perfect way but later i found it was a big mistake because a person can do mistakes,

  • I was seeking for that, but now I’m convinced that perfectionism only for God and we are just humans.
    No, I don’t think so because whatever you do it will not be perfect.

  • I don’t care about something to be perfectly , for me i spend my time to all things I enjoy when I do it and giving me great feel.

  • yes I guess that I’m a perfectionist and it’s really so tired trying to do everything perfectly it’s consume your energy , well I’m trying forgive myself to do a little errors .

  • The life is never perfect, therefore, we are not being perfectionist. People often have a lot of troubles with their job, family, children, money… and I’m one of them. The most important thing is keep positive attitude and optimistic to overcome problems. We learn to accept the best and worse in any case. That’s is my thought.

  • Yes I feel that all the time , if I didn’t go to my course or do all my job because I belive that makes me a good person but when I didn’t do one things frame them I feel so bad on my self

  • I usually try to be perfectionist in every thing in my life like my deal and my relationship, but this podcast was so useful for me thank you

  • Unfortunately, i do try to be perfect and i want to everything to be in a perfect way ,, it is hard and so stressful,, i tried to be kind to myself and accept that perfectionism is good in many ways for me and for people who dealing with

  • yes, I do a lot of things in my life prefect as possible i can for example I clean my room Seriously and love but remember that All perfection belongs to God and the Humans are prone to error.
    no, i don’t think so because it makes the person feel tired if the thing do not make perfect

  • I always try to do things perfectly. But later, I understand we can’t do everything perfectly, and I try to accept the mistakes that may be made.

  • I try to do things perfectly like studing when l study hard and take a good marks I feel praud and that Iam an ideal student. I think it a good to try be perfect such as when I achieve goal or dream it’s very important or when l submit helping for another people or when I preserve on prayers and read or keep qouran I feel comfortable and very happy.

  • yes, I’m i always trying to be perfectly but now i try to changing and do every thing i can do even if is not perfect.

  • When I do things I don’t care to do it perfectly.
    I think it is not good to be perfect because that will be a worrying !
    I think to do things be simply and lovely that more important than perfect.
    That my opinion.

  • -Yes, I remember when I wanted to take a course on digital marketing, literally I was writing anything they were saying. The one video was taken over an hour almost, this sounds crazy. I didn’t finish this course because I was striving to be a perfectionist.

    -Yes, maybe sometimes you must try to be perfect and finish the tasks in a perfect way, but you must have moderation to continue on the track or task you have to do without getting bored.

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