The Truth About Perfectionism

We live in a society that values the appearance of perfectionism. And I suppose there are some things that can be perfect. A perfect straight line can be drawn by an architect, software programs can solve complex equations with precision, and a chocolate cake can be perfectly moist.

Things can be perfect. But human beings are a different story. We are always evolving and growing into a better version of ourselves. Perfection indicates a finality – a finished product – but we as humans are always changing. We will continually be a work in progress.

What is Perfectionism?

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

Although it is important to try and do our best, Perfectionism is NOT the same thing as always doing your best. We learn and grow the most often times through our failures. Failure can foster a person’s greatest achievements. 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 stress, anxiety, and depression.

Signs to Look For

Most people, at least occasionally, will strive for perfectionism in some aspects of their lives. That “perfectly moist chocolate cake” I mentioned as an example got that way because the person who baked it was trying to get everything JUST RIGHT as a gift for someone’s birthday.

“Full time” perfectionists don’t just try to achieve the perfect chocolate cake. They also aspire to BE that perfect cake. All the time.

Here are some signs you may be a perfectionist:

  • You don’t like to try tasks or activities unless you feel you can complete them perfectly.
  • You are ends-oriented, meaning you focus little on the process of creating or learning something and put all of the emphasis on the outcome.
  • You have trouble seeing a task as having been completed unless it meets your perfectionist standards.
  • You tend to procrastinate because you don’t like starting a task until you know you can perfectly complete it.
  • You tend to take far longer completing tasks than others, which can cause problems at work.

Getting Help

Again, perfectionism is not the same thing as doing your best. It is a condition whereby the individual is almost incapable of feeling joy or pride at what they accomplish because in their own minds, they are never quite good enough.

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.
If you’d like to explore how you can treat your anxiety or perfectionistic tendencies, we are here to help. Please reach out and contact us.