Are You a Perfectionist?
What is Perfectionism?
The definition of perfectionism has three key parts:
1. The relentless striving for extremely high standards ("unrelenting standards") foryourself as well as imposing them on others.
2. Judging your self-worth based largely on your ability to strive for and achieve such unrelenting standards.
3. Experiencing negative consequences of setting such demanding standards, yet continuing to go for them despite the huge cost to you.
Understandably, it is generally a good idea to have high standards. Having goals helps you achieve things in life. BUT when these goals are either unachievable or only achievable at great cost, it makes it very difficult to feel good about yourself. This is when perfectionism can be problematic.
What's Good About Being a Perfectionist?
Many people think of perfectionism as something positive and often visualize a high achiever. This is because they usually think of it as pursuing excellence or having high standards. When people pursue excellence or set high standards, they put in a lot of effort and challenge themselves. In this way they learn new skills and tend to achieve good results.
We understand that people have good reasons for being perfectionists, and here are some of the reasons they give:
- I like to do things well I get pleasure out of achieving what others can't do It makes me feel special I like to go to bed leaving no tasks undone.
- I get satisfaction knowing I've tried my hardest I like being top of the class I like being efficient.
- I like being organized.
- I like being prepared for every event I never lose anything because I'm so well organized.
What positive qualities do YOU associate with perfectionism? What are some of the advantages of setting such high standards?
What's Not So Good About Being a Perfectionist?
But sometimes these "unrelenting standards" get in the way of our happiness. Sometimes the drive to do well can actually impair performance. What a strange idea, that having high standards and working very hard to maintain these standards can actually make things worse. This is the paradox of perfectionism!
Without any standards people generally achieve less, so having standards is not a bad thing.
There is a big difference between the healthy and helpful pursuit of excellence and the unhealthy and unhelpful striving for the relentless striving for self-imposed personally demanding standards. The words used here already give you a hint of why perfectionism might be unhealthy. If you have set extremely high standards for yourself and you keep pushing yourself towards reaching them, what kind of pressure are you putting on yourself? It is likely that you would be constantly feeling on edge,tense, and stressed out.
What's more, being a perfectionist is not just about doing your best but doing even better than before, and often pursuing a higher level of performance than you canreach, which leaves you feeling that even your best efforts aren't enough.
This excessive drive to excel is self-defeating as it leaves you little chance of meeting your goals and feeling good about yourself.
The second part of the definition refers to judging your self-worth based on your ability to achieve. It is like putting all your eggs in one basket'. This makes you particularly vulnerable, as not reaching the standards you set for yourself (which may be unachievable) results in you feeling like a failure.
If achievement wasn't so important to how you judge yourself, then maybe not reaching that high standard wouldn't be so bad, and making a mistake or slipping up occasionally - which everyone does - would be acceptable.
The third part of the definition refers to the enormous cost of being a perfectionist. Pursuing these personally demanding standards can have a significant impact on your well-being , and can lead to social isolation, frustration , worry , depression , eating disorders, relationship difficulties , obsessive-compulsive symptoms, repeated checking of work, excessive time taken to complete tasks , insomnia, procrastination, poor health and a persistent sense of failure , etc.
When you put all these parts of perfectionism together, they become an unhealthy combination . Perfectionism has its problems! Here are some of the negatives that perfectionists give:
- I have no free time
- No achievement is ever enough I blame myself if things aren't done just right
- I can't stand it when other people don't do things my way
- I don't trust others to do as good a job as I do so I end up doing it all I have to go
over my work many times until it's acceptable to me
- I have to do more and more in order to feel accepted by others I'm so afraid of
failing that I never get started
What negative qualities do YOU associate with perfectionism? What are some of the disadvantages of setting such unrelenting standards? How might being a perfectionist be unhelpful to you? Think about it for a moment and jot down some thought.
(above information taken from http·//www.cci .health.wa. gov.au/docs/1%20What%20is%20%20Perfectionism .pdf)
Do your reasons for why your Perfectionism is not good for you
outweigh the reasons why it is good?
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