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The Real Reasons Why You Are A Perfectionist
For a long time, perfectionism was seen as a positive trait. It was a marker for success, a commitment to delivering high quality and a display of ability. However, new research shows that perfectionism isn’t always positive.
A recent study has found that around 30% of the population identify as perfectionists and that it can lead to psychological ill-health due to the excessively high standards that perfectionists may hold for themselves.
So, where does perfectionism stem from and can you make this trait work positively for you?
Are You A Perfectionist?
Perfectionism is often confused with high achievement. However, there are distinct differences. Here are some of the signs you may be a perfectionist;
- You’re highly critical and may be drawn to mistakes or imperfections before you see the positives
- Things must be perfect; otherwise, they are a failure
- Your standards or goals are often out of reach
- Your focus is on the results, rather than the path that gets you there
- Worrying about failure means it is hard to enjoy the process of learning, growing and striving
- You accomplish goals because of fear of not reaching them, rather than feeling pulled by a desire to achieve
- You can beat yourself up if you don’t reach your goals or if you don’t meet your high expectations
- It is common to put things off until the last minute as you are scared of failing or delivering anything less than perfect
- You’re prone to procrastinating
- You have low self-esteem.
Different Types Of Perfectionism
In the list above, some of the points may ring truer for you than others. This is because there are several different types of perfectionism. Some of the most common categories of perfectionism are;
This type of perfectionist is likely to feel negative emotions of distress, anxiety and avoidance. People in this group are likely to create overly-ambitious goals or targets and then feel intimidated by these self-set goals rather than motivated to achieve them. It can come with a sense of hopelessness that you never live up to whom you want to be.
This type of perfectionism is growing among college students where there is a pressure that demands excellence. Students may feel the pressure of the standards set by their parents or siblings. Individuals may feel pressured to be a specific size or look a certain way because of social media. People who suffer from socially prescribed perfectionism will look to high standards in culture or society and try to meet these unrealistic goals.
This type of perfectionism is also common for those who have demanding careers that centre on precision. Medical professionals, lawyers, architects and designers, for example, can all feel extreme pressure based on what their job requires from them.
People with this type of perfectionism are at a higher risk of self-harm, depression and stress.
In this form of perfectionism, you will feel energised and excited by the high standards and ambitious goals you set. Typically, this type of perfectionism is healthy and does not necessarily lead to stress or burnout. Others may perceive your standards as very high, but you are comfortable with the task ahead and do not feel overwhelmed or paralysed by fear.
Why Are You A Perfectionist?
You Feel Guilty
As a child, you may have felt that something was your fault, or you were to blame. To alleviate that guilt, you may have focused on trying to be perfect for preventing further disruptions or painful emotions.
You’re Looking For Protection
By distracting yourself with work, studying and projects, you build this protective wall of busy-ness. This motivation of focusing on doing your best possible work can stop you from thinking about painful past events.
You Feel Undervalued Or Dismissed
If you’ve been ignored, undervalued or criticised, you may carry this feeling and try to prove others wrong by being perfect. Your focus is on proving a point that you can meet or exceed the high standards you believe others have set for you. You may also be working hard to gain attention and affection.
You Fear Disapproval
With this, you may worry that people will not accept you for who you really are. It could be that you feel insecure or inadequate. As a result, you work hard to deliver perfection and meet societal standards so you will feel accepted.
Those who have a history of high achievements, or if you are used to receiving high praise for your accomplishments, may feel a pressure and a drive to continue this level of achievement. Consequently, this manifests into perfectionism as you seek to live up to your previous successes.
Creating A Healthier Approach To Perfectionism
Perfectionism can lead to high stress, overwhelm, burnout, and mental health issues such as self-harm, depression and anxiety. If perfectionism is causing psychological ill-health, then it is wise to seek help. I offer hypnotherapy for perfectionism, stress and anxiety, which can help to understand the cause of the issue. From this, we can then work on reprogramming the brain with a healthier, happier approach.
We can also look at your fear of failure and procrastination strategies and how they are stopping you from achieving your dreams. Consequently, we can begin to set healthier, motivating goals that are accomplishable and achievable without the paralysis of needing perfection.
To find out more about how therapy can help you to re-focus your perfectionist tendencies for a healthier approach, get in touch to book your first free consultation. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your complimentary telephone consultation.