Fantasy As Control

Fantasy has a connotation of something pleasurable or desirable. But to the perfectionist, control is pleasurable and desirable. The perfectionist has externalized their ego — they have identified with their possessions, their talents, their failures and successes, the attention and approval of the hive — and thus seeks control in the external world in order to preserve self-worth. The perfectionist, in attempting to control the external world, is attempting to protect his sense of self, his ego. The perfectionist perceives it as “out there”, exposed, defenseless.

Rumination is a core tool in the perfectionist’s kit. Rumination is a distorted form of fantasy. A fantasy for those who want control over the external world. Fantasies where we can alter the past or manipulate the trajectories of present circumstances (in other to words, “the future”). Rumination always seems to take two forms: rehearsing the future, and replaying and reworking the past. The story we tell ourselves is that somehow we can analyze the past actions, and then plan perfect future actions. Only it seems we never actually seem to do this. We over-identify so deeply with the outcome that when actually in the present moment, we freeze up.

As the Stoic philosophers point out, we can only control our actions and our responses. Not circumstances, nor outcomes/consequences. Perfectionists seem to be avoiding the only situation where they actually have control: the present moment.

The fool attempts to control consequences; the wise man seeks to control his actions.

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