Are You a Perfectionist?
Perfectionists often believe that doing everything right can win them success, acceptance, even love. But sadly, their seemingly flawless behavior can actually undermine their efforts. According to counselors at the University of Illinois, the desire to be perfect can rob people of their sense of personal satisfaction, preventing them from achieving as much as those with more realistic goals. Are you a perfectionist? Check out the top eight signs.
8 Signs You May Be a Perfectionist
1. The thought of being average is simply not acceptable.
2. You are obsessed with organization.
3. You never let any negative emotions show in public.
4. You get upset if you make a mistake, no matter how small.
5. You always find things to worry about.
6. You secretly feel inferior to other people.
7. You want to be the best at everything.
8. You constantly second-guess yourself.
There's nothing wrong with striving for excellence, but when it comes at the expense of your happiness, it's time to start making some changes. If any of the above signs sound familiar to you, use these five strategies to start breaking the cycle of perfectionism.
1. Make a list of the advantages and disadvantages of trying to be perfect. When you make the list, you may find that the disadvantages are simply too great. For example, you may discover that problems with relationships, work, and food (plus accompanying feelings of anxiety and inadequacy), actually outweigh any advantages that perfectionism offers.
2. Increase your awareness of self-critical, all-or-nothing thoughts and behaviors. Learn to substitute more realistic, reasonable thoughts for your habitually critical ones. When you find yourself berating a less-than-perfect performance, take a step back—and acknowledge the positive aspects of it. Then, ask yourself these questions: Is it really as bad as I feel it is? How do other people see it? Is it a reasonably good performance given the circumstances?
3. Focus on the process, not just the end result. This will enable you to evaluate your success not only in terms of what you've accomplished, but also in terms of how much you enjoyed the task. It will also teach you that there can be value in the process of pursuing a goal.
4. Learn how to deal with criticism. Perfectionists often view criticism as a personal attack, responding to it defensively. Concentrate on being more objective about criticism, and also about yourself. If someone points out that you've made a mistake, acknowledge the fact that you're only human--and mistakes are completely natural. In addition, ask yourself, "What can I learn from this experience?"
5. Be realistic about what you can do. By setting more realistic goals, you will gradually realize that "imperfect" results do not lead to the negative consequences you expect and fear. And because your goals are more attainable, you'll achieve more of them, which may lead to greater self-esteem. Also, remember to take some time out from focusing on your goals to simply sit back and relax. How good are you at relaxing?
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