Perfectionism

When you think of a perfectionist, who do you think of?

The problem with perfectionism is not the energy with which you move, it is that the end goals are constantly moving targets where you never give yourself credit for the goals you’ve met. You end up in a place of chronic fatigue and failure where you feel like you are only as good as the things you do “perfectly”, which quickly becomes “all or nothing”.

Perfectionism can look like:

  • Avoidance
  • Procrastination
  • Need for control
  • Overly critical self-judgment or self-evaluation
  • Being unable to acknowledge failure
  • Excessive lists and planning
  • Overly detailed or elaborate plans
  • Constant checking
  • Needing high levels of reassurance
  • Excessively high or unrealistic standards
  • Being psychologically rigid
  • Some compulsive behaviors
  • Anxiety

Perfectionism is transdiagnostic and can also be seen in other places/conditions:

  • Anxiety Disorders (Social Anxiety, Generalized Anxiety)
  • Depressive Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Relationships
  • Etc.

What Works?

Nothing works perfectly….but just enough.

Therapy follows an evidence-based Cognitive Behavioral model to address:

  • Self-worth
  • Standards of achievement
  • Cognitive biases
  • Performance-related behaviors

Healthier language looks like:

I tried, but not hard enough and my effort feels good.

What can I do today to make my to-do list shorter in service of my core values and goals?

I’d like to send this email without proofreading it for an unreasonable amount of time, so that my colleagues don’t think poorly of me so I can leave work on time today and enjoy my family.

Procrastinating or avoiding this difficult task will make me look like the good guy for as long as possible not decrease my anxiety.

Though I have doubts in my ability to be successful to the degree my perfectionism demands, I’m going to engage in life anyway.

all of us