We all know someone with a serious case of perfectionism: they always look amazing, take on more work than anyone else and generally try to make everyone else look bad. However, no matter how much people seem to “have it all together” perfectionism can be insidious and cause high levels of stress and anxiety over time. Many of us (yes, I said “us” — I have these tendencies, too!) suffer from various levels of perfectionism and may not even realize it. What are some of the giveaway markers of perfectionism, and what can you do to make the best out of it?
What is Perfectionism?
If we feel out of control of our surroundings, perfectionism may be the only way that we feel as though we can get back in control. However, perfectionism can be sneaky — you may be subconsciously refusing to accept any standard that is short of perfection while zealously over-scheduling ourselves in such a way that virtually guarantees that we will fail to reach that unattainable goal. Why do we torture ourselves in this way? Overly-critical self-evaluations and high degrees of concern of how others view us are both different sides of the challenge of perfectionism.
Signs That You Might Be a Perfectionist
One of first keys to overcoming this unrealistic world view is to identify the signs that you might be a perfectionist.
- Everything must be done exactly your way, or it is incorrect or the results are invalid. At work, this can make collaboration very challenging and can strain relationships at home.
- All-or-nothing thinking can lead you to only accept projects where you can excel, and shy away from anything that could expose your imperfections.
- Speaking of imperfections, you obsessively attack them to ensure that no one else sees that you’ve had a less-than-perfect moment. You’re simply incapable of letting something go that doesn’t mean your exacting standards.
- You take “results-oriented” to a whole new level by blaming yourself excessively or by playing a dangerous blame game.
- Oh the horror! When you actually do make a mistake, you perform emotional karate on yourself as punishment. Ouch!
- Success that others only dream of isn’t enough for you. There’s always something more that is just out of reach, and you can’t find even a moment’s contentment with the status quo.
While striving to improve is a healthy human trait, perfectionism takes that striving to an unhealthy level. Perfectionism is the amplification of positive stress traits that help us grow: being detail-oriented, striving for more in your life, setting high standards, and defining success. Taken alone, none of these things are considered “bad” or “unhealthy”, but when it begins affecting your daily life and relationships it needs to be addressed.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed with negative thoughts or feeling as though you’re in a downward spiral that you simply cannot come out of, give me a call.
I can help you work through these emotions and offer supportive techniques that can lessen your overall stress and anxiety.
It’s time to start feeling better and take back your happiness!
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