I don’t think of myself as a perfectionist. But I when I started researching the subject, I saw my footprints everywhere.
That said, any quality in anyone is within us as well. It may not look the same, but it’s there. Therefore, I wasn’t surprised when many of characteristics of perfectionists showed up during my research. The key questions become: to what extent do they show up and how do they affect our day-to-day lives?
We have a culture that encourages the fear of failure. We’d do better to become advocates for reaching towards BETTER. Isn’t progress more important than perfection? Brené Brown says: “Perfectionism is not the same as striving to be your best. Perfection is not about healthy achievement and growth.”
Here are examples or perfectionism:
• Spending 30 minutes on a two-sentence email.
• Missing two points on an exam and thinking you failed.
• Focusing only on the end of the project and not the journey to get there
• Using the accomplishments of others as the benchmark of your performance
• Believing that anything less than perfect isn’t worth doing.
Psychology Today states: “Perfectionism is a personality disposition-extremely high-performance standards and a compulsion to strive for flawlessness.
There are three types of perfectionists
1. Self-oriented: You avoid personal failure by using inflexible standards.
2. Other-oriented: You are overly judgmental and critical with unrealistic expectations of your partners, children and co-workers.
3. Socially prescribed: You believe you can never measure up to high standards others set.
There are positive and negative traits. Positive ones includes reliable, responsible, dedicated, driven and persistent. Negative traits are critical, unrealistic, approval seeking, prone to depression and anxious.
Many of my perfectionist clients suffer from anxiety. Not surprisingly, so do their children. Perfectionists never believe they measure up, leading to fear of failure, low self-esteem, depression, and despair. Often, these overachieving clients look “perfect” on the outside, but on the inside teem with angst and neediness.
So, you may be wondering what are the roots of perfectionism.
A common cause is parents driving their children too hard. Another is where children emulate the ways of their perfectionist parents. Sometimes a household of chaos and discord induces shame and a burning commitment to live the opposite perfect life. Sometimes, they developed a shadow belief from childhood that if not perfect, they won’t be loved or they need to control everything to be safe. These are but examples of beliefs that childhood can form to breed cause perfectionism.
The need to be perfect can cause various conditions like eating disorders, relationship issues and obsessive compulsive behavior.
Here is a check list of some tendencies in case you are questioning yourself:
• You believe the drive that hurts is the price for success.
• You are highly critical of yourself and others.
• You have a hard time opening up to others.
• You take everything personally
• You are overly defensive when criticized
• You have an all or nothing mindset
• You are a big procrastinator
o Do your standards get in the way of deadlines?
o Do you have trouble meeting your own standards?
o Do you research ad nauseum, putting off decisions?
If you see yourself in some or all of these examples there are tools to help you manage these tendencies.
1. Your thinking needs to be more realistic.
a. Use affirmations and put sticky notes on a mirror or phone for example. Here are a few you could use. (You can create others that resonate with you more).
i. Nobody is perfect
ii. All I can do is my best
iii. Making a mistake doesn’t mean I am inadequate
iv. Everyone makes mistakes
v. I love my awesomeness and my flawsomeness
b. You can ask a friend for advice to see how they view the situation.
c. Ask yourself: is there is another way to view the situation?
d. Ask yourself: what is the worst thing that could happen? Then check in with yourself, if the worst thing did happen, what would you do? I doubt there is a situation when put to this test you wouldn’t survive.
2. Perfectionist behavior stems from the fear of making mistakes.
a. Gradually and consistently facing fears is the best way to overcome negative behaviors.
b. Make mistakes purposely, so you realize the end result isn’t catastrophic.
i. Don’t make your bed all week.
ii. Show up 15 minutes late for an appointment
iii. Let someone see you as weak or tired.
iv. Send an email with some typos
v. Go out without looking all done up, maybe dirty hair or no make-up if you are a woman.
3. Tips to overcome procrastination and stop thinking it can only be done if done perfectly
a. Create a realistic schedule
b. Chunk down tasks to manageable sizes
c. Ask for help
4. Learn to let go of judgment. Letting go of judgment may be the key to letting go of perfectionism! Can you journal, meditate, challenge your beliefs and best yet, hire a coach to help you with all of it?
I shared a lot of information here, so here’s a quick summary:
• Ditch the negative self-talk
• Practice making mistakes
• Break down tasks to manageable steps
• Don’t compare yourself with others
• Practice living in the moment.
I would love to hear your comments and of course I would love to support you. I offer a free discovery session. Just follow this link: https://calendly.com/nancy-66
In love and light,