What is a perfectionist?
A perfectionist is someone who has high standards for themselves. In many ways this can be a positive thing; however, this can also be a not so good thing.
Perfectionists often seek help from therapists because they struggle with the consequences of setting high and impossible standards for themselves.
Perfectionists become addicted to the idea of doing things perfectly.
What is a perfectionist: The good
What is a perfectionist: The cycle of harm
All of us are the same in that we have a hard time recognizing when our habitual behavioral patterns are getting in the way. Perfectionism is a good example of how something that can be a good quality can also be an Achilles heel. The standards a perfectionist sets for themselves often are impossible to meet. A Perfectionist judges themselves based on whether or not they can meet those impossible standards. They don’t have an inherent sense that they are fine the way they are but believe that they are only okay if they can meet their goals, and then even that isn’t usually enough!
Failure is not an event, but rather a judgment about an event. Failure is not something that happens to us or a label we attach to things. It is a way we think about outcomes.
- John Ortberg
Perfectionists experience negative consequences, that is, they suffer terribly because of the cycle they have set up, but they have a hard time letting go of the beliefs that drive their actions.
Perfectionism has been shown to be related to eating disorders, depression and other anxiety disorders. In adults the tendency of many who are perfectionist to have a heightened sensitivity to making mistakes or to criticism is correlated with other psychological problems.
The key to working with your perfectionism, is to master the positive aspects (being goal focused, driven, organized dependable and reliable) and work on the factors that contribute to feeling badly (self criticism, sensitivity to making mistakes, unrealistic expectations and self appraisals).
If you struggle with perfectionism, ask yourself, just what is it costing you?
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