More times than not, users here talk a lot about perfectionism and what it is to be a perfectionist. In dissociation's case, it seems that perfectionism can actually hinder progress in recovery due to the perfectionist's "Go Big or Go Home" outlook. I think it's beneficial to understand more about perfectionism, being a perfectionist, and things you can do to help yourself to understand that mistakes are okay.
Normal vs. Neurotic Perfectionists
There are multiple forms of Perfectionism, but the most prominent here is the Neurotic Perfectionist which are perfectionists that strive for unrealistic goals and consistently feel dissatisfied when they cannot reach them; whilst the Normal Perfectionist pursue perfection without compromising their self-esteem, and derive pleasure from their efforts. Neurotic Perfectionists desire perfection and fear imperfection; Neurotic Perfectionists feel that other people will like them only if they are perfect, as a result, being unhealthy and adaptive. Now, perfectionism is not the same as striving for excellence, due to the difference in making mistakes. Those who strive for excellence can take mistakes (imperfections) as incentive to work harder, whereas perfectionists consider their mistakes a sign of personal defects - for these people, anxiety about potential failure is the reason this behavior can be felt as a burden.
Are You a Perfectionist?
Sometimes Perfectionism can be something that isn't quite noticeable by yourself. Some signs that you may be a perfectionist:
- Critical Eye - Perfectionists are far more critical of themselves and of others than are high achievers. While the high achiever may take pride in their accomplishments, perfectionists can be seen spotting the tiny mistakes and imperfections in their work, in turn, trying to find the imperfections in themselves. They tend to hone in on the imperfections without seeing any big picture and they're far more hard on themselves when failure occurs.
- "Push" vs "Pull" - High achievers tend to be pulled toward their goals by a desire to achieve them and are happy with any steps made in the right direction. Perfections, on the other hand, tend to be pushed toward their goals by a fear of not reaching them. They see not meeting that specific goal as a failure in their eyes and, especially, an imperfection in themselves.
- Unrealistic Standards - A perfectionist's goals may sometimes be unreasonable. High achievers tend to set their goals high, whereas, the perfectionist set goals out of reach.
- Focus on Results - Perfectionists tend to see the goal and nothing but, whereas a high achiever may enjoy the process of chasing a goal as much or more than the actual reaching of the goal itself. Perfectionists are so concerned with meeting the goal and avoiding failure that they can't enjoy the process of growing and striving.
- Depression by Unmet Goals - Perfectionists are much less happy and easygoing than that of high achievers. Perfectionists tend to beat themselves up much more and wallow in negative feelings when their high expectations go unmet.
- Fear of Failure - Perfectionists are also much more afraid to fail than are high achievers. They place so much stock in results and become so disappointed by anything less than perfection, failure becomes a very scary prospect.
- Procrastination - Ironic, huh? Perfectionism and procrastination go hand-in-hand because fear of failing is so high that the perfectionist may feel that even trying to reach the goal is completely useless, for the slight chance of completely failure.
- Defensiveness - Less-than-perfect performance is so painful and scary to perfectionists, therefore they tend to take constructive criticism defensively.
- Low Self-Esteem - Perfectionists tend to be critical of themselves with everything. They can also be lonely or isolated, as their critical nature and rigidity can push others away as well. This can lead to lower self-esteem.
Perfectionism can rob you of your self security, enjoyment in life and even self-esteem. Though it's a process that may take time, shedding the burden of perfectionism can greatly decrease the level of stress you feel on a daily basis.
Make a Cost-Benefit Analysis:
Take a closer look at your perfectionist traits. You may think you're more effective because of them, but at what cost? Perfectionism has many negative consequences, and you may be experiencing several of them right now. Make a list of all the ways perfectionism is hurting you (and those around you), and you'll be more motivated to shed these tendencies.
Become Aware of Your Tendencies:
You may not realize how pervasive perfectionism can be, but by becoming more away of your patterns, you're in a better position to alter them. Buying a journal
and recording your perfectionist thoughts as they pop into your head is a good idea on how to understand them better and how to overcome them. If it's impractical for you to jot thoughts down as they come, it's a great idea to go over your day each night and remember the times when you felt you'd failed, or hadn't done well enough, and write down what you thought at the time. This will help you become more away of perfectionist thoughts as they come to you in the future.
See the Positive:
If you're struggling with perfectionism, you probably have hones the skill of spotting mistakes in even the best works of others and of yourself. You may just naturally look for it, and notice it above all other things. While this habit may be difficult to just stop, you can soften your tendency to notice the bad by making a conscious effort to notice all that is good with your work and the achievements of others.
Alter Your Self-Talk:
Those who wrestle with perfectionism tend to have a critical voice in their head telling them their work isn't good enough, they're not trying hard enough, and they're not good enough. If you're going to overcome perfectionism, you need to work on changing this little voice. Negative self talk can perpetuate unhealthy behaviors and wreak havoc on your self esteem - altering this is a capital idea.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
is intended to help the person understand that it is okay to make mistakes sometimes and that those mistakes can be lessons learned. CBT is a psycho-therapeutic approach that addresses dysfunctional emotions, maladaptive behaviors and cognitive processes and contents through a number of goal-oriented, explicit systematic procedures.
Traits of Perfectionism
The Benefits of Journaling
Help with Perfectionism
Dec 12 2013 06:00 PM
I think real perfectionism has actually nothing to do with goals or even unrealostic goals, it is just a constant self-kicking, and a constant rationalization of that self kicking.
Feb 02 2015 09:39 PM
Fear of Failure it huge part of my problem. I did notice that when I decided to tackle some of my failure's by doing something which I thought may help me, it never. So it left me thinking was fear of failure the real issue with me? Or is it a worthless feeling so I try to make up for that feeings of worthless by achievement which is false. because nothing external can provide me happiness, of course it helps to have job, money, cars, etc etc, but that deep worthlessness feeling is internal, this why I started mindfulness a month ago, and its very helpful..to learn that I am complete regardless of what I have in life, but this is hard to convince my self of this.
I seemed at some point in my life to put my internal happiness or worth on outside things like having this and that, and if I never had it I was nothing, worthless Or I never meet parent standards which means I worthless etc
But I have realised that I am complete without having to have these things but its hard and I am still trying to work through this understanding with mindfulness is teaching me..