Perfectionistic Thinking and Behavior
Many people think of perfectionism as something positive as it is mistakenly seen as a pursuit of excellence. People hold the belief that aiming for perfection allows them to be efficient, organized, and prepared. However, perfectionism can have the opposite effect. Perfectionism is a paradox. As one’s perfectionism increases, they are most likely to feel frustrated and upset rather than fulfilled. Setting high expectations can be motivating and quite healthy. However, when taken to the extreme, our productivity can actually decrease. Perfectionists frequently experience many of the symptoms listed below:
- Fear of failure. Perfectionists often equate failure to achieve their goals with a lack of personal worth or value.
- Fear of making mistakes. Perfectionists often equate mistakes with failure. In orienting their lives around avoiding mistakes, perfectionists miss opportunities to learn and grow.
- Fear of disapproval. If they let others see their flaws, perfectionists often fear that they will no longer be accepted. Trying to be perfect is a way of trying to protect themselves from criticism, rejection, and disapproval.
- All-or-none thinking. Perfectionists frequently believe that they are worthless if their accomplishments are not perfect. Perfectionists have difficulty seeing situations in perspective. For example, a “straight A” student who receives a “B” might believe, “I am a total failure.”
- Overcompensating. Performing a behavior in an excessive manner to try to ensure nothing goes wrong
- Excessive Checking and Reassurance Seeking. Checking and/or seeking reassurance from others that a task has been done well enough or that all standards are met
- Excessive Organizing and List Making. Spending so much time getting organized that it interfere with getting tasks completed
- Procrastination: Putting off doing things for fear of not meeting standards
- Avoidance. Avoiding doing something altogether for fear of not meeting standards.