Let’s break it down and analyze what it is.
It is an illusion. to believe that if you strive for things to be perfect, you feel like you have better order and better control. Perfectionism doesn’t give you any more control with all the uncertainty of this world.
Perfectionism entails striving to be flawless. It typically includes overly critical self-evaluations and excessive concerns about negative evaluations from others.
Perfectionism entails striving for unrealistic or even unattainable goals, followed by disappointment when we fail to achieve them. That’s followed by cognitive dissonance from misalignment between perfect self-identity and imperfect performance. For a perfectionist, low performance automatically means low self-worth.
Fundamentally, the assumption behind perfectionism is that the only route to self-acceptance and peace is flawlessness. It’s less about a desire for self-improvement and much more about seeking acceptance and approval. It entails conflating our identity and worth with our performance and accomplishments.
Perfectionists can be consumed with self-monitoring and carefully managing their impressions.
Perfectionism is a problem because perfection is an impossible standard for those of us who don’t wear a cape.
Perfectionists are under a regular barrage of self-imposed pressure.
This problem is on the Rise: On average, young people are more perfectionistic than they used to be and the belief that other people expect you to be perfect has increased the most.
“Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order.” -Anne Wilson Schaef
Meticulousness inhibits our work.
It harms our relationships.
Perfectionism causes needless suffering.
Perfectionists will face a new or challenging situation and hear all sorts of psychological alarm bells. There will be a fear of failing and looking bad. Given their tendency to fall short of their impossible standards, they can also start to develop an impression of themselves as failures, spinning a negative tale about their past that comes to haunt them going forward.
Perfectionism can reduce creativity, inspiration, and joy. Insidiously, it can lead to procrastination. Though perfectionists are aiming to avoid social rejection by appearing flawless, sometimes they come across as aloof and inauthentic. Perfectionism is correlated with anxiety, substance abuse, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, clinical depression, self-harm, and suicide.
Perfectionism ≠ the pursuit of excellence. That’s a myth.
Perfectionism ≠ striving to be your best. A rationalization.
Perfectionism is maladaptive and self-destructive. There’s much research on that.
“Perfectionism isn’t about high standards. It’s about unrealistic standards.”
-Professor Andrew Hill, York St. John University
Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life.
The Gift of Perfectionism
Perfectionism is a formidable foe, and a powerful inhibitor of our wellbeing.
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