Perfectionism is a real thing. The obsession to be perfect in today’s culture can really play on our minds, affect our performance at work, school, even at home, and—ironically—can hinder us from being our best. Of course, we all want to reach our highest potential, be well thought of, and avoid making humiliating mistakes. We all want that perfect body, the fullest, shiniest hair, the most rewarding career, the greatest family, and the most desirable material goods. We want to be the smartest, most successful, healthiest, and best dressed we can possibly be! But striving towards perfection only brings us to a solid, obscure brick wall that blocks us from going forward. This is to the woman who feels barred by her desire for perfection.
WHAT DOES PERFECTIONISM LOOK LIKE?
Just as someone can be a workaholic, a shopaholic, or even an alcoholic, one can be a perfectionist to the same degree. Here are some common qualities of perfectionists:
- “All or nothing” thinking. Perfectionists want to give their all and refuse to do anything in between. They don’t operate in gray areas because they feel like there’s no reward in that. Either they put in their best work or they don’t work at all.
- Self-critical.Perfectionists never believe who they are and what they do is good enough. They have an ideal expectation of how they want their work, or performance, to turn out. If their results don’t live up to those expectations, or if they notice even the tiniest flaw, they would critique themselves harshly and focus on that one flaw while ignoring everything else they did well.
- This is probably the last quality to expect from a perfectionist. But these individuals are prone to feel overwhelmed by a huge task or project and will likely doubt their abilities to the point of inaction. This is caused by overthinking.
- Setting unrealistic standards. Perfectionistic individuals are always dissatisfied because they set unrealistically high standards for themselves and others. They may feel as though their way of thinking is out of their league whenever they come up short with accomplishing certain goals. Their focus is tofeel perfect, not to necessarily be perfect.
- Fear of failure. Failure is a perfectionist’s worst nightmare. They are quick to take ownership when something doesn’t go as planned. This sense of guilt lurks in the back of their minds and makes them doubt their abilities to carry out future tasks. Once they experience tangible failure, their self-confidence becomes tainted.
There is a way to not only reduce perfectionism, but apply it in a healthy way.
Accepting mistakes. Many perfectionistic people have fears of making mistakes, mainly in the presence of others. When this happens, they may believe that others are scrutinizing them and judging them. But most of the time this is not the case. Some people actually feel relieved when they see others make mistakes because it helps them identify and relate to that person even more (“Wow, I thought I was the only one with that problem!”).
Making mistakes is one of life’s hidden treasures and perfectionists must know that. Mistakes help us realize what we did wrong so we can continue to move forward towards our potential. Getting “stuck” with our mistakes and brooding over them only stagnates us. So remember, mistakes are inevitable and they are meant to push us forward.
Set realistic expectations. Perfectionists have an unhealthy habit of setting unrealistically high standards for themselves and their work. This is the easiest way to set oneself up for failure because they are setting standards that they can’t reach. Perfectionists must know their own strengths, weaknesses, abilities, and even their own limits in order to know how to set attainable goals for themselves.
Compare yourself to yourself. Comparing ourselves to others can completely rob us of our joy, self-esteem, and worth. Even if they don’t want to admit it publically, some perfectionists habitually compare their talents, abilities, and even physical appearance to the next “perfect” person on social media. I always say, the only person to be better than is who you were yesterday.
Perfectionism can be hindering, but always leave yourself elbow room for growth, be pleased with yourself, and remind yourself that you’re doing a good job.