*Perfectionism is not a Positive Attribute

We live in a society that values things that appear perfect. But as human beings, we can never reach a state of perfection because we will always be a work in progress. Perfection indicates a finality – a finished product – but we as humans are always growing and changing.

What is Perfectionism?

Many people view perfectionism as a positive attribute. They believe the more “perfect” they are, the more success they will have in life.

Perfectionism is NOT the same thing as always doing your best. It is important that we always do our best. By doing so, we can experience healthy achievements and growth. But perfectionism takes this concept to the extreme.

People with perfectionist tendencies often have self-defeating thoughts and/or behaviors that actually make it HARDER to achieve their goals. Perfectionism also can make the individual feel stressed, anxious, and depressed.

Signs to Look For

Most of us will strive for perfectionism in some aspect of our lives. As an example, you wanted to bake a “perfectly moist chocolate cake” as a birthday gift to your mum.

However, there are those who are “full-time” perfectionists. They strive for perfection in all aspects of their life.

Here are some signs you may be a perfectionist:

  1. You think in terms of “all or nothing”
  2. You have demanding standards for yourself and others at all times, even when it is not strictly necessary
  3. You find it difficult to trust others to do a task correctly
  4. You do not consider a task as having been completed unless it meets your perfectionist standards.
  5. You procrastinate, or avoid situations where you think you might not excel.
  6. You tend to take far longer completing tasks than others.
  7. You hold the perception that others expect a lot of you, coupled with a fear that you will not live up to these expectations
  8. You put all your emphasis on outcome only and tend to fixate on something you messed up.

A need for control; over self and environment

Perfectionism is a condition whereby the individual finds it difficult to feel joy or pride at what they accomplish because in their minds, they are never quite good enough or they could be better.

If you believe you may have traits of perfectionism and it is causing you stress, there are things you can do to change your behavior so you can live a healthier and happier life. Here are some practices that can get you started:

  1. See the big picture and shift your mindset from being overly detail conscious to maximising the impact of your work so that you can focus on what is important
  2. Adjust your standards from “Perfect” to “Already good enough”
  3. Create a checklist to check less – focus on key areas and not every single detail
  4. Break the cycle of rumination and over-thinking:
  5. Identify your triggers – learn how you can mitigate or reframe your negative thoughts
  6. Don’t not act on your first reaction – give yourself time to calm down and re-assess the situation.
  7. Use distraction to break the cycle – do something different or do opposite
  8. Adopt realistic optimism – believing you will succeed with the realistic understanding that success require efforts such as planning, persistence, resilience ability to deal with obstacles and self-confidence

If you’d like to explore treatment options, please reach out to me.


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