Many readers identified strongly with the dilemma of perfectionism: On the one hand striving for excellence, and on the other, falling prey to the perils of expecting yourself to be flawless all the time.
Recently I came across two helpful approaches to detecting warning signs of perfectionism and practical tips for dealing with the downsides.
First, a short recap. Perfectionism is often a cause of anxiety and sub-optimal performance. It is human nature to strive to do something as well as you possibly can because it uplifts your self-image and draws the attention and admiration of family, friends and peers at work. But when perfectionism is taken to extreme, it extends into the neurotic and obsessive end of the spectrum, it debilitates, and can lead you into paralysis and anxiety; even depression.
Warning signs you may be perfectionist
- You spend a good deal of your time and energy trying to look, sound and act perfectly
- You constantly compare yourself to others, often in unflattering ways
- You are so fearful of making mistakes that you make little or no progress and sometimes avoid doing things that may cause you to fail
- You have an inordinate fear of failure, at times you feel paralysed by this fear
- You are defensive when corrected, feeling you’re being judged and criticised
- You lose time by allowing yourself to overthink every detail
- You view mistakes as proof you’re inadequate
- You can’t celebrate your success and may even self-deprecate
- You judge, analyse and evaluate your every action; you are your harshest critic
- You expect perfection from everyone.
Managing your perfectionist trait
Becoming aware of the ‘never good enough’ problem is the starting point; acknowledge it.
Challenge yourself to set realistic expectations of yourself and accept that mistakes are part of the process of learning and improving.
Learn more about coping with perfectionism
How to take a needed vacation from perfection by Pamela Deneuve, June 14, 2017
9 signs you’re a perfectionist (and that’s not a good thing) by Amy Morin, Forbes, June 25, 2017