Can You Plan Predictability?
You know how it goes. If it’s perfectly planned out then it’s bound to happen just like so, right? Perfectionists are detail-oriented and super planners. Their research skills on hypothetical scenarios are akin to NASA level scientists. I kid but for some perfectionists, this is a serious response to being raised by parents who were unpredictable or unreliable or lived a life filled with frequent changes. As a child, their way of adapting to feeling helpless to perceived chaos was by creating a sense of control through routine, organization, and structure.
Along with the desire for predictability comes the pressure to make it happen. This pressure is applied to their schedule, to their persona, and even to their own emotions. Keeping tabs on their schedule creates predictability within chaos. It also makes it easier to blame oneself if things don’t work out. Though this is a false sense of control, the perfectionist perceives that if events don’t work out, it’s mostly due to their flawed self and failure to foolproof the plan rather than external circumstances.
Deciding to overly contain their emotions in their interactions with others keeps everything the same and even-keeled. This creates less opportunity for confusion and change in relationships. Which makes sense, if while growing up the person learned that expressing their feelings towards caregivers would either rock the boat or fall on deaf ears, they are more adept at staying quiet or agreeing despite their true feelings. As a child, they learned to suck it up and fend for themselves the best way they could. What transpires is a severing from their vulnerability, from tapping into how they really feel about others and situations, because, well, everything is always fine. So, this works for some time possibly during the pre-marital or pre-kids stage because they are on their own. But, once you bring significant others and children to the mix, keeping up with the overall schedule, dealing with other parents, coworkers, managing their kids’ feelings from the mundane to the important becomes overwhelmingly difficult to keep everything the same and structured. Feelings of chaos brim to the surface when it becomes more difficult to keep it all together. The perfectionist does what they know best, try harder, get stricter, move faster. Leading to . . . burnout. The perfectionist mistakenly believes that the problem isn’t in the system, but instead that there is something inherently wrong with them and that’s why things don’t work out. This is a never-ending cycle that can be ameliorated by talking to a professional, and undoing years of misperceived responsibility. If you find yourself in this cycle, reach out for help. It doesn’t need to be this way. You can enjoy predictability along with the curveballs of life.