Living with Perfectionism

3rd December 2018

Posted in: Blog General

Perfectionism is an inner belief that things have to be done 100% perfectly. Interestingly enough though, this belief may not flow into every aspect of a person’s life. For some people, perfectionism may extend to all aspects of their personal and work life, however for others, they may think they have to be perfect in their work life, but it’s not so much of an issue in their home and personal life. Whichever is the case, living with perfectionism can be very stressful.

A perfectionist strives for perfection, placing incredible pressure upon themselves. In their mind, they have to be the perfect person, not let anyone down, be super organised and not make mistakes. Unfortunately, human beings are not designed to live this way, they aren’t perfect and they make mistakes. So, for the perfectionist, this unrealistic expectation increases stress levels, increases the likelihood of fear, frustration and disappointment, reinforces low self-esteem and crushes the ability to make a quick decision.

The quest to be perfect is not only stressful, time consuming and unrealistic, it often masks an underlying cause. This can include fear of failure, insecurity, low self-esteem and an inner belief that the real self is not good enough to be accepted by loved ones, friends, work colleagues and the wider community.

Common behaviour patterns and thinking styles associated with a perfectionist includes:

  • Being overly organised, constantly making lists and re-doing them
  • Believing that near enough isn’t good enough
  • Inability to delegate tasks because they may not get done right
  • Difficulties making a decision because it has to be the right one
  • Avoidance of activities or situations where they may not live up to perceived expectations
  • Belief that if they are less than perfect, they are a failure
  • Seeking reassurance they are doing well

Tips for managing perfectionism include:

  • Identify the reasons behind your perfectionism – explore how you really feel about yourself and the motivation for your perfectionistic behaviour’s
  • Re-frame how you think about mistakes and failure – accept it’s okay to make mistakes, nobody is perfect
  • Avoid comparisons with others – everybody is different and we all have differing strengths and abilities
  • Learn to view mistakes as an opportunity to learn and grow
  • Focus on being practical – being perfect is impossible, so aim for good enough, the point at which the job is done or the outcome has been achieved
  • Focus on the positive, not the negative – flip the negative self-talk to positive self-talk, emphasising the good things about yourself
  • Embrace your flaws and imperfections – give yourself permission to be the real you and let others love you for who you are

If you feel counselling can help you to manage living with perfectionism, please don’t hesitate to contact Karen Cummins at Mindful Crossroads counselling services on 0400 416 535, or fill in the “Contact” section on the Mindful Crossroads website to arrange a confidential discussion.