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.Learn More
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by obsessions, which are unwanted and intrusive thoughts. Or, compulsions, which are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that are done specifically to alleviate the anxiety caused by the thoughts. OCD can have a profound effect on a person’s life, including:
- Difficulty performing everyday activities like eating, drinking, shopping, or reading
- Avoidance of anything that might trigger obsessive fears
- Inability to function as a contributing member of society
- Excessive time spent engaging in ritualistic behaviors
- Health issues, such as contact dermatitis from frequent hand-washing
- Feeling exhausted and unable to concentrate due to obsessive thoughts
- Difficulties at school or work
- Troubled relationships
- Overall poor quality of life
- Feeling ashamed or lonely
OCD can also be compounded by depression and other anxiety disorders, including social anxiety, panic disorder, and separation anxiety. Long-term effects of OCD can include depression, constant anxiety, and an increased risk of substance abuse.
It is important to note that OCD is a treatable condition. Psychological therapy, self-help techniques, and medication can help people to recover from OCD. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) are a couple of effective treatments for OCD that can help individuals learn to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can also be helpful in reducing symptoms, but it is not a substitute for counseling.
If you or someone you know is struggling with OCD, seek help from a mental health professional. With the right treatment, individuals with OCD can learn to manage their symptoms and achieve their goals.
Click here to listen to Dr. Baffa’s podcast on OCD Joon Lee on our team specializes in OCD.Learn More
As a parent, it can be difficult to recognize when your teen is experiencing social stress. Unlike adults, teens may not have the vocabulary or self-awareness to articulate their feelings of stress and anxiety. However, it is important to be aware of the signs of stress in teens so that you can help them manage their stress and prevent it from becoming chronic.
Some common signs of stress in teens include irritability, anger, changes in sleep patterns, changes in appetite, and physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches. If you notice any of these signs in your teen, it is important to talk to them and offer support. One way to help your teen manage their stress is to encourage them to engage in activities that they enjoy. This could be anything from playing sports to reading to listening to music. Encouraging your teen to take breaks from their schoolwork and other responsibilities can also help them manage their stress.
It is also important to listen to your teen and validate their feelings. Let them know that it is normal to feel stressed and anxious, especially during difficult times. Encourage them to talk to you or a trusted adult if they are feeling overwhelmed. If you are concerned about your teen’s stress levels, it may be helpful to seek professional help.
Counseling provides a safe and supportive environment for teenagers to express their feelings and concerns. A counselor can help teenagers identify the sources of their social stress and develop coping strategies to manage it. For instance, a counselor can teach teenagers relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises and mindfulness practices, to reduce anxiety and stress. A counselor can teach teenagers effective communication skills, conflict resolution strategies, and assertiveness techniques to help teenagers improve their social skills and build healthy relationships
A counselor can help teenagers identify their strengths and talents and build a sense of self-worth. This can help teenagers feel more confident and resilient in the face of social stress and help teenagers develop a positive self-image and improve their self-esteem.
If you or someone you know is struggling with social stress, consider seeking the help of a counselor. With the right support, teenagers can overcome social stress and thrive.Learn More
We have all heard the expressions: “Good Vibes Only”, “Think Positive”, and “Be Happy”. It was refreshing to read the recent blog posted by S. Wall that brought to our attention the toxicity of always seeking positivity.
As a therapist, I have long believed that suffering, loss, and pain are not feelings simply to be medicated or avoided. Instead, we can strive to process and absorb them. Despite the messages we may receive, it is important to experience your painful feelings. Feeling sorrow, fear, and grief at times is not only normal and okay, but necessary to experience, so they can be released. The full spectrum of emotions must be felt; it is virtually impossible to embrace elation without knowing disappointment—a titular paradox that there is no happiness without sadness.
Melancholy is a species of sadness that arises when one is open to the fact that life can be inherently challenging, and that suffering and disappointment are core parts of universal experience. Feeling down at times is not a disorder that needs to be cured.
Modern society tends to emphasize buoyancy and cheerfulness, but we must admit that reality is in part about pain and loss. The good life is not one immune to sadness, but one in which this emotion contributes to our development and growth.
As humans we were born with the ability to feel the whole range of our emotions from elation to despair. Figuring out how to do this in a healthy way is an important part of growing into a mature adult. How do we deal with both melancholy and joy? How do we straddle these in a way that feels genuine and true to ourselves?
Although this journey is not always paved with ease, there is a round map. We can follow a guide to help us identify and walk through these feelings in a way that is both productive and nurturing.
The first step in experiencing painful feelings is to notice what is going on inside of you. Identify what it is you are feeling by naming it and locating where it resides in your body. Ask yourself directly: “Is it disappointment, grief, fear, loneliness, rejection, shame, or another feeling?” Brene Brown, in her most recent book, reminds us that there are 88 human emotions, and the name we give to them dictates how they are interpreted physiologically and mentally. Our bodies react differently if we term our state stress or overwhelmed; being precise in this diction is key. If it is fear you identify, notice what other feelings are underneath that fear. Do you feel lonely or abandoned? Pay attention to what is going on inside your body. Are there areas of tension, pain, or other sensations? These sensations are where the feelings live in your body.
The next step is to find a safe way to express the feelings. Healthy ways to release your feelings are by:
- Talk about your feelings with a trusted friend or therapist
- Use self-dialogue that is compassionate
- Recognize your triggers: People, situations, and places often hold strong associations. If you find yourself feeling emotionally blocked when it comes to certain triggers, it may be worth avoiding them when possible.
- Limit your distractions: Cell phones, television, music, or video games hold many people’s attention hostage. Once you turn off the noise, you will be better able to tap into your inner feelings and express them outward.
- Write in the form of journaling or poetry: Regardless of your skills, writing is an effective way to express emotions and communicate with others.
- Practice Acceptance: Try to accept those aspects of your life that are out of your control. Doing so will make you feel better while freeing up your mind to become more emotionally expressive.
- Be Grateful
- Explore a novel interest: Getting out of your comfort zone often leads to greater emotional expression and wellbeing.
Hiding your emotions limits the honesty of your communication. Being in touch with yourself allows you to be in better touch with others. Hold the space for the full spectrum of feelings.
Written by Francine Baffa, LICSW, BCBA-D
Edited by Joe DeNoon
As posted at Operation Happy Nurse
If you want to keep your relationship, you must treat it and your partner as though they can choose to be in the relationship or not.
Are relationships unconditional or a choice?
Does the word “divorce” not exist in your vocabulary? If this is true for you and your partner, awesome!
Unfortunately, when one or both partners hold the belief that the other will never leave, this invites complacency or even neglect into the marriage. Life gets busy, so if the belief is that, the motivation to respond to them will get dropped lower on your list of priorities. It seems okay because your partner won’t leave no matter what, right?
No, that’s not right.
There are plenty of couples, including many who never ever believed it would happen to them, who do split up. A funny thing happens though. Those who do break up or divorce and enter a new relationship, marriage or otherwise, now know that relationships are a choice. They must be treated as a choice. This can be a game-changer.
Honestly, though, it doesn’t matter if you believe marriage is an unbreakable commitment or not. What does matter is this:
If you want to keep your relationship, you must treat it and your partner as though they can choose to be in the relationship or not.
Figure out what creates a hurt
To help your partner keep choosing to be with you, you will need to figure out two things. Firstly, what is it that hurts them? What are the hurts they experience that force them to think about choosing not to be with you? Once you zero in on one or two things, then stop. Just stop doing the things that hurt your partner.
If you need help figuring out what hurts your partner, you can certainly go ask – by all means! They will probably welcome your curiosity as it will help your partner feel like they matter enough for you to ask. However, I have a feeling you already know what they will say.
Does it hurt when you criticize your partner? Stop criticizing! Learn to express your needs without criticism. If you need help with this, Step 4 and 5 in my book, Fix Your Partner in 10 Easy Steps or Less! discusses criticism and hurtful communication and how to change it.
Does it hurt your partner when you are dismissive? Stop being dismissive. Learn to validate and empathize; learn to be compassionate to how your partner feels. Whatever it is that hurts them, stop. You can’t hurt your partner and then expect them to want to be close.
What creates a connection?
The next step is to figure out what you can do that builds a connection. You have to work on cultivating the connection between you if you want it to be strong. This takes intention and effort, not just being in the same room watching television.
Remember, love is a verb, so let’s get you loving! If they value time with you, make some time. If they value being snuggled, then get snuggly. If they like it when you cook dinner or clean the bathroom, get started! If they value these things and you do them, they will feel grateful and more motivated to meet your needs, which will help you continue to make the choice too.Learn More