Sunday, March 16, 2008

Perfectionism Is A Trap!

One of the biggest issues I have had to deal with is being a perfectionist. The need to be perfect all the time is a trap. It can prevent you from growing because it prevents you from letting people see the real "imperfect" you.

But in Nursing School...

It's tricky. In nursing school, we were taught that certain procedures have to be performed perfectly, like passing medications for example. It could be argued that if there ever was a time that being perfect is appropriate, passing medications would be one of them.

However, it could also be argued that if a medication error was committed, perhaps there is more to learn about making the system better. What were the factors involved in the medication error. Was pharmacy involved? Did they fill the medication incorrectly and increase the chances of our eyes playing tricks on us? Was the patient load too heavy that day? Was the nurse pulled in too many directions at once? Did the constant scramble for help and resources force an error that otherwise would not have taken place? Did the fact that she missed out on her favorite snack, because her break was cut short, finally catch up to her?

Perfectionism Acts Like A Mute Button

But the need or tendency to be perfect in the nursing world, can hinder our ability to take care of ourselves in the outside world. For example, even when you do decide to attend a group and get emotional support to help you better cope with life's stresses, you find you're not able to open up in front of the group. The need to appear perfect is too strong. It's like a powerful mute button that keeps you silent.

You tell yourself, I'm just content listening. Sharing should be reserved for only those people in the group who can really be profound and who really have answers. Meanwhile, you stop yourself from contributing to the group because you feel you're not perfect enough. You don't get to grow and benefit from taking the risk of exposing yourself, warts and all.

In the past, the need to be perfect has blocked me from taking some positive risks. I finally got sick and tired of being sick and tired! The beginning of change started when I admitted that my way wasn't working.

Question: Have you ever struggled with Perfectionism? Has it limited you? In what ways? To answer, simply hit "Comments" at the bottom of this blog post and type away!

Wishing you good health,
Theresa Waller, RN
714 293 5398
Take Care of Yourself Nurses!

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