Does Perfectionism Rule?

Does perfectionism rule your life?

Do you worry about how other people see you? Or how they judge you?

Are your self expectations impossibly high?

Living as a perfectionist is a constant exhausting climb to your lofty ideals.

The Costs of Perfectionism

First of all, perfectionism is a hard master. It never lets up. For this reason it is exhausting! Furthermore, it creates huge stress.

Some common costs of perfectionism include:

  • it robs you of self worth.
  • self acceptance is compromised.
  • feeling ‘never good enough.’
  • you judge yourself harshly – and often.
  • the  joys of achievement are limited or absent.
  • true satisfaction is rare.
  • you are not at peace.
  • difficulty relaxing.
  • frequent disappointment..
  • frustration.

Living With A Perfectionist

Living with a perfectionist parent or partner is challenging. Similarly housemates or perfectionists at work can make life difficult.(It seems a contradiction to be less than perfect!) Due to the constant pressure high stress levels are common. Also, they may be impatient, controlling or withdrawn.

Furthermore, many perfectionist ideals are not achievable. For this reason they set up a sense of ‘failure.’ Consequently this erodes self esteem and confidence.

What underlies the need for perfectionism?

Perfectionism is a product of beliefs and strategies.

Beliefs

Perfectionism is largely rooted in core beliefs. For the most part, these  beliefs are formed in early years. How we make sense of our experiences creates beliefs. Most noteworthy is that these beliefs may not be true.

Some common beliefs are:

  • “I’m not good enough”
  • “people will only like and accept me if I am perfect”
  • “I must be perfect otherwise I am not a worthwhile person”
  • “my role in life is to keep everyone else happy”
  • “people will reject or abandon me if I am not perfect”

Perfectionists often catastrophise. This applies both to present situations and future outcomes.  For example:

  • “it is absolutely catastrophic if I make a mistake. Or if I let someone down. It means I am a failure as a human being”
  • “everyone I meet must approve of me and what I do. If they don’t it means I am worthless. They will reject me.”

Perfectionism as a Strategy

Perfectionism is a popular coping strategy. Certainly it is about staying safe in some way. For example, Terri’s father was abusive. As a child, Terri needed to avoid his rage. As a result, she decided ‘I must be perfect’. Subsequently, Terri worked hard to please. She focused on being a ‘perfect partner.’ Terri hoped this would avoid conflict or punishment.

Finally, perfectionism is a strategy to gain acceptance. And to avoid disapproval or rejection.

We all have a deep need for acceptance. We all have fear of rejection. Perfectionists rely on being ‘perfect’ to avoid rejection.

What can you do about perfectionism?

You can break free from perfectionism. The process involves two focus areas.

Beliefs And Attitudes About  ‘Perfection.’ 

The overall aim is for your ideals to guide your life. In contrast to ideals rigidly ruling your life.

First, we identify the beliefs and attitudes that underlie perfectionism. The next step is to challenge these beliefs. Are they accurate? Therefore are they true?

The need for perfection is replaced. An alternative is to use standards of excellence. Another alternative is your ‘personal best’. Both are achievable. For that reason there is less pressure.

You can adjust your orientation to life. In contrast to perfectionism, flexibility, letting go and learning are valued. Successful people value learning from ‘mistakes.’ Many great inventions have come from finding out what does not work!

Likewise, perfectionism can delay new plans and projects. You probably won’t start if you wait until ‘everything is perfect.’  For this reason, top entrepreneurs “don’t wait.” In contrast, they apply other guidelines.

Beliefs About Yourself

A key objective is developing self esteem. Accordingly we identify your various beliefs. Beliefs are like a computer programme. Consequently they can be changed.

The next step is replacing the unwanted beliefs. New beliefs and attitudes are ‘installed.’ Importantly, these beliefs enable strong self esteem. Core areas include self acceptance and self worth. Similarly, compassion for yourself replaces harsh self judgement. Likewise fears and self doubt are adjusted. Furthermore, you can come to trust yourself in various ways.

Your sense of worth needs to become unconditional. This means you control your confidence and self worth. As a result you no longer give others this power.

Finally, we explore new strategies to meet your needs. As a result, new skills may be developed. Most noteworthy are communication skills and relationship skills.

Can you imagine if you were freed up from perfectionism? How much easier and happier could your life be!

I invite you to email or call if you would like to work on perfectionism!

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