The Truth About Perfectionism

The Truth About Perfectionism

We live in a society that values the appearance of perfection. While there is opportunity to obtain apparent perfection – perhaps architects can draw a perfectly straight line, mathematicians can solve an equation with a perfect calculation, or a chocolate cake can be perfectly moist, humans can never achieve a state of actual perfection because we are a perpetual work in progress. Perfection indicates a finality – a finished product – and humans are always growing and changing.

What Is Perfectionism?

Many may view perfectionism as a positive attribute. They believe the more “perfect” they are the more success they will obtain in life.

Consider that perfectionism is not always doing your best; perfectionism takes the concept of doing one’s best to an unworkable extreme.

A mind that sets expectations of being perfect will often generate self-defeating thoughts and self-directed criticisms that can make it harder to achieve goals. These harsh internal narratives are associated with increased stress or symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Signs To Look For

Many humans, from time to time, will strive for perfectionism in some aspect of their life. For example, that “perfectly moist” chocolate cake referenced above was perhaps crafted by a baker working diligently to get everything just right as a gift for someone’s birthday.

There are also some folks who are “full-time” perfectionists. They strive for perfection in all aspects of their life. Signs of being a perfectionist can include:

  • You don’t like to attempt tasks or activities unless you feel you can complete them perfectly
  • You are end-oriented – focusing less on the process of creating or learning and more on task outcome
  • You cannot see a task as complete unless it meets perfectionist standards
  • You tend to procrastinate starting a task until you are confident you can complete it perfectly
  • You tend to take far longer completing tasks than others

Getting Help

Perfectionism is not the same conceptually as striving to do your best. Perfectionism is a clinical concern whereby an individual struggles significantly to experience joy or pride surrounding an accomplishment because of not-quite-good-enough thoughts generated by the mind. If you are interested in further exploring your relationship with unreasonable expectations set by your mind or believe you may exhibit traits of perfectionism, I invite you to call or email me to get started working together. Telehealth appointments are available.


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