It is a well-known fact that nobody is perfect. However, even though it is commonly accepted that the world cannot achieve perfection, there are still people who aspire to live in a world of excellence and greatness.

Perfectionism is often viewed as a desirable quality that helps build a structured and orderly society. It is commonly associated with traits like discipline, intelligence, and innovativeness. Nevertheless, being a perfectionist has its drawbacks, and it is not always a positive thing.

What is perfectionism?

Psychology describes perfectionism as the inclination to expect from oneself or others an exceedingly high, and sometimes unattainable, level of performance that surpasses what is needed in a given situation. It is a complex personality trait characterized by an excessive obsession with reaching impractical goals and standards.

People who exhibit perfectionist tendencies experience constant unease when things do not go according to their plans. They not only hold themselves to high standards, but they are also critical and judgmental of others when mistakes are made. They persistently live in a state of fear, restlessness, worry, and anxiety.

What are the common signs that you are a perfectionist?

Failing is unacceptable. 

You put in more effort than others because you believe that failure is not an option. You take great care to ensure that everything is accomplished to your specifications and completed with competence and proficiency.

Small things get to you. 

It bothers you when someone misspells a word or a store does not provide the correct change. Sometimes not arranging soda cans by height or color can cause you nightmares. These minor issues irritate you and cause you to question other people’s ways of thinking. 

You prefer working alone. 

You feel uneasy when other people are okay with completing tasks in a mediocre manner & think that they are not doing an excellent job based on your high expectations. In order to prevent conflicts, you prefer to work independently rather than relying on others.

Deadlines are a big deal to you. 

You firmly believe that deadlines must be strictly followed. There are times when you think that  you are the only one who recognizes the importance of deadlines. Regardless of how little time remains, you should ensure that you submit your projects and assignments promptly. It is not in your nature to request an extension.

You spend hours completing a task. 

You strive for everything you do to be flawless and excellent & understand that achieving perfection requires time, so you do not rush the process. It is typical for you to repeat tasks multiple times until you accomplish what you envision.

You are punctual. 

You are recognized and praised for your punctuality and always arrive on time because you value the importance of time. It frustrates you when others are not as time-conscious as you. You always think that you could have utilized that time for other activities rather than wasting it by waiting for other people. 

Being competitive is in your nature. 

You tend to overwork yourself because you want your tasks and projects to excel and be better than  those of others. Being a perfectionist pushes you to a different level in terms of competition. It is disheartening for you when the work of others is preferred. 

How do you manage being a perfectionist?

Being the best and aiming to be perfect are not always good and healthy. Having this kind of mindset can cause you to develop a fear of making mistakes. It may also lead to stress and disappointment due to not being able to meet your own high standards consistently. However, there are ways that will help you overcome your tendency to be a perfectionist. 

List down the pros and cons of being perfect. 

You may have to write about the pros and cons of being a perfectionist. It is possible to realize that the drawbacks of perfectionism outweigh the benefits. You may slowly see and realize the issues that come with your high standards and expectations.  

Be more realistic. 

Since a perfectionist person tends to be highly self-critical, a useful approach to overcoming this behavior is to replace perfectionistic thoughts with more practical and constructive statements. Consistent practice of these constructive statements can be very helpful. Repeating kind and realistic affirmations will gradually transform them into a habitual pattern and diminish negative self-talk.

Set time limits for doing a task. 

In order to prevent spending too much time striving for perfection, it is helpful to set time limits for tasks and follow them. Instead of obsessing over the end result, focus on the process. You can also break down large projects into smaller, more manageable tasks to avoid overworking yourself.

Learn how to accept criticism. 

Perfectionists tend to take criticism as a direct attack on their personal capabilities and tend to react defensively. To overcome this, learn to approach criticism in a more objective manner, and to see it as an opportunity for growth and improvement. When someone criticizes you for a mistake, acknowledge the mistake and remind yourself that it is okay to make mistakes.

Reward yourself. 

It is not easy to confront your fears and change habits, so every time you know that you have overcome unhealthy behaviors, reward yourself. This keeps you motivated to always be more conscious of your tendencies to be a perfectionist. The reward could be something simple like taking a walk or relaxing, or it could be a more significant reward like going out for a nice meal or spending time with friends.

If you are having trouble dealing with your obsession and perfectionism, visit Mindshift Psychological Services. There are cases where perfectionism can lead to depression and anxiety. Check out our website to learn more about us. You may also contact us at (714) 584-9700 to schedule an appointment

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