Updated: Jan 13
One of the difficult things with perfectionism is that it is often seen as a desirable trait; it can be something that drives us and contributes to our success, both relationally and professionally.
But with these seeming benefits also come some big drawbacks. Perfectionism often is bedfellows with self-criticism, anxiety, fear of failure, depression, and a range of other mental health difficulties. It can also leave us so afraid of failure we never take risks.
So why isn't perfectionism all it is cracked up to be? Simply put, underneath the drive for perfection is often a feeling of not being good enough.
Perfection becomes the antidote to that feeling. You'll be good enough once you have the perfect body. Good enough once you have the perfect job. Good enough when you have the perfect partner. Good enough when -insert just about anything here-.
The problem, of course, is that being human means we are never perfect. And secondly, good enough becomes dependent on doing rather than simply being.
Seeking perfection is a full-time job, and it is a tiring one! If you've started to wonder if you might be stuck in perfectionistic thinking, this article is for you.
7 Signs You Might Be A Perfectionist.
You struggle with 'All or Nothing Thinking.' - Anything short of perfect feels like a failure.
Setting Unrealistic Standards - You set unrealistic goals and timelines
Inner Critic - Your inner critic is very active and spots mistakes and imperfections
Fear of failure - You feel driven by a fear of failure
Procrastination - You worry so much about doing something perfectly that you don't start
Achievement Tied Self-Esteem - Your sense of self and self-esteem feels tied to what you do
Results Focused - You're focused on results and don't enjoy the process of getting there
Perfectionism & Your Daily Life
Perfectionism can be present and impact your life in a variety of ways. Sometimes your perfectionism will be present only in one area of your life, and other times it may be present across multiple different areas. Below are some examples, but perfectionism can present in many other ways as well.
Physical Appearance - worrying about looking and presenting as perfect to other people. This can sometimes lead to struggles with disordered eating.
Work and School - needing a great deal of time to complete tasks, going above the requirements, or struggling to get started.
Relationships - setting unrealistic standards for friends, romantic partners, and family.
Hobbies - wanting to be perfect right away, getting fixated on rankings, getting frustrated
What causes perfectionism?
Perfectionism is a way of coping that often serves us at some point in our life. Our brain learns to believe that if we are perfect, we can protect ourselves from hurt, disappointment, anxiety, and other unpleasant emotions. For example, we might have gotten praise from a normally critical parent when we performed well at school. Or got desired attention from the opposite sex when we dressed and looked a certain way. Of course, the problem is that we can't really protect ourselves from these perfectly natural human emotions.
If you think you might be struggling with anxiety and perfectionism, reach out to see if we might be a good fit. You don't have to struggle alone to let go of perfect.