The Problem With Perfectionism

The Problem With Perfectionism

Perfection can be a blessing or a curse. On the one hand, we hold in high regard a person who strives for perfection in the form of excellent quality and success. For example, corporate business and sports place a premium on these attributes. Additionally, marketing and advertisement depend on a whole range of perfection metaphors to capture demand for specific products and services. On the other hand, numerous people who latch onto a specific idea of perfection catalyze within themselves a rigid, myopic, and obsessive drive for fulfillment. All too often, their behavior results in debilitating mental, emotional, and even physical consequences. This is the problem with perfectionism, or what some refer to as “toxic perfectionism.”

Who Suffers Most From Perfectionism

While it’s generally said that more women than men are perfectionists, there’s a paucity of data to support this claim. However, one large study of Australian corporate workplaces found that 33 percent of women and 22 percent of men received high perfectionism scores.

The Downside of Perfectionism

While the field of psychology has a set of criteria to diagnose clinical perfectionism. In my experience, there are many more women under the spell of perfectionism even if they don’t meet the clinical definition.

Signs of Perfectionism

As a perfectionist, you have high and even unrealistic standards. You’re apt to judge your final product and yourself harshly. In fact, you may rarely, if ever meet your own standards of perfection, at least, in your eyes. As a result, you may suffer from depression. You might, like some perfectionists, hold others to your standards. In doing so, you judge them critically and become frustrated with them when they fall short.

Costs Of Perfectionism

Health and Wellness

Perfectionists suffer in much the same way as others who are chronically stressed, anxious, frustrated, dissatisfied, or depressed. Ultimately, the stress and negative thoughts and emotions manifest in a wide array of physical ailments and conditions.

Disharmony Among Colleagues

When you believe there’s just one perfect approach or one perfect outcome, you limit your ability to collaborate with others and gain from their valuable input.

Siffled Professional and Personal Growth

Adherence to one way — the right way — stifles your and your colleague’s professional growth. Many ideas and suggestions are left unexplored and on-the-job learning is curtailed.

Three Ways To Address Perfectionism

If you explore the topic of perfectionism, you’ll likely find many suggestions on how to address the problem, including, but not limited to those available within psychotherapy. However, many coaches can provide good assistance as well.

1. Just Notice

Practice noticing yourself as you process information, make decisions, and interact with others. When do perfectionism and rigid thinking come up? Note when you see it, but don’t judge yourself. Just acknowledge the perfectionist in you. Feel free to give your perfectionist self a silly name. It helps you separate (unmerge) with this part of you.

2. Fostering Flexible Thinking

Challenge an approach you’ve recently outlined for yourself. It can be related to work or your personal life. And, it can be something significant or relatively insignificant.

3. Uncommitted Exploration of Others’ Suggestions

Consider others’ points of view and suggestions. There’s no need to commit to pursuing anything. You don’t even need to admit that you’re considering something. Just be willing to explore one suggestion as if you had no idea what you would do instead.

For Help With Perfectionism, Consider These Three Options:

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Integrated Coach and Energy Healer, Writer, Speaker, Teacher