Perfectionism or Progress?
What is Perfectionism?
Perfectionism is a trait that many people possess, and while it can be a positive attribute in some situations, it can also cause depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. Perfectionists often set unattainable standards for themselves, leading to chronic procrastination, difficulty completing tasks, or giving up easily. They are highly critical of themselves and beat themselves up over anything that doesn’t meet their standards. Often times a perfectionist fears that if they don’t shoot for perfection, they will become low-achievers and not reach their goals. Sometimes, the fear of failure is so terrifying that they procrastinate because they would rather not do something at all if it can’t be done perfectly.
The Roots of Perfectionism
Perfectionism is often rooted in fear of failure or rejection of some kind, so the fear and anxiety that come with it can be overwhelming. Studies have found that symptoms of anxiety were related to perfectionism and underlying mental health disorders and associated symptoms that include OCD, social anxiety, and PTSD symptoms. Perfectionists also may have chronic avoidance tendencies and procrastination that can often make bad situations worse.
What Perfectionism Looks Like
Perfectionism can manifest in different ways, and there are several signs that someone may be struggling with perfectionism. Here are some common signs of perfectionism based on the search results:
- Having high standards and expectations for oneself and others.
- Being highly critical of oneself and others.
- Feeling a constant need for structure and organization.
- Being an all-or-nothing person, anything less than perfect is seen as a failure.
- Craving approval and validation from others.
- Feeling defensive when receiving feedback or criticism.
- Being a big procrastinator due to fear of not being able to do something perfectly.
- Being full of guilt and shame when things don’t go as planned.
- Having rigid black-or-white thinking patterns.
- Feeling pushed by fear to achieve perfection.
- Having an unrealistic view of what is achievable.
What can you do?
One way to improve perfectionism is to replace self-critical or perfectionistic thoughts with more realistic and helpful statements such as, “good enough, is enough.” It is a good idea to practice these helpful statements regularly. Even if you do not believe them right away, enough repetition will turn positive realistic thoughts into a habit and help crowd out the negative self-talk.
If your perfectionistic tendencies cause you daily distress, it is important to seek help. A therapist or counselor can help you gain new perspectives about yourself and your goals. This may reduce your levels of negative emotion and even help you achieve your goals more efficiently. In therapy, you can learn coping skills and strategies to overcome anxious thoughts and behaviors. You can also identify the root causes of your perfectionism and work to address them.
Bellevue Family Counseling uses tools such as CBT, EFT, EMDR, Lifespan Integration Therapy and other effective tools to address anxiety and perfectionism. Email us if you would like help finding the right counselor for you.