Being a perfectionist, although considered to be a great trait has its own fallacies. Perfectionism is a double edged sword. Those who pursue it get stuck in a search of flawlessness and a crippling fear of failing. People who identify as perfectionist, set impossible to achieve standards for themselves and then worry that they won’t be able to attain them. People grappling with perfectionism also have an insanse ideology that if their work is not PERFECT, it’s WORTHLESS. Nothing short of absolute perfection is acceptable to them. Unfortunately, this strive for excellence is not only restricted to their professional lives, it haunts their personal lives too. This puts a strain on their personal relationships.
In this blog post I will discuss the fallacies of perfectionism. How, despite being a admired by others, perfectionism has a negative impact on the person striving for it. If you wish to lead a more positive and life and develop effective coping strategies to successfully deal with the paradon of perfectionism, subscribe to Guilt Free Mind. The subscription option is present in the sidebar; If you like to watch videos, subscribe to Guilt Free Mind’s YouTube channel. Do not forget to ring the notification bell so that YouTube always notifies you the moment the next blog post releases.
The paradox of perfectionism
Perfectionism is a paradox in itself. It drives a person towards excellence while at the same time constantly burdening them to achieve the unattainable. Aiming high and trying to achieve more is good. However, when your expectations go beyond what’s realistically possible, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
It’s critical to understand and grasp the double sided native of perfectionism. You must understand that this goes beyond a simple expectation for getting good results . Instead it can have a huge impact on your mental , emotional as well as physical well-being.
The growth of perfectionism in society
Recently, perfectionism has seen a major rise in society. Technological, cultural and social factors have majorly contributed to this growth. For example, the influence of social media has formed an environment where achievements and images are constantly being showcased. These leads to rise of unrealistic standards of expectations. Due to this, youngsters are feeling pressured to adhere to these standards and achieving more which in turn is fueling the fires of perfectionism.
Furthermore more, society demands more success from current generation than previous ones. Thus, everyone is in a race of getting better, achieving more and striving to do better in their professional and personal lives.
Understanding the allure of perfectionism
In order to understand why perfectionism has such a huge hold on society, we first have to understand its positive and negative sides. Perfectionism is not the villian. It has its good side and bad side. The problem is that we don’t know when to pause or stop. So let’s have a look at both pros and cons of being a perfectionist.
High standards and goal setting
At its core, perfectionism causes the person to set way high goals for themselves Since they aim too high, even if they cannot get to the pinnacle, it definitely improves their performance. They are always striving to get better at their tasks. They try to produce work which is of the highest quality everytime. This pushes them to work at their full potential. Their high standards of achievement provides them a clear roadmap of success.
Setting goals and striving to be perfect becomes the empowering factor for such individuals. It fosters a sense of direction and purpose in them. They know what they want and how to get it. Goal setting causes such people to set meticulous planners and plan the smallest details . This in turn makes them more productive and better at time management. When their goals are met, they have a high sense of accomplishment, reinforcing the need to continue being a perfectionist in future.
High ambition and motivation
Perfectionists do not require extrinsic motivation. They are driven by an innate need to excel and be best at whatever they do. This drive acts as an extremely powerful motivator. Such people tend to go beyond what is expected of them and deliver more. Whether it’s academics, personal development or career, the inner fire of the perfectionist pushes them to keep improving their performance and exceed their past achievements.
The relentless pursuit to be better also inspires those in the surrounding of the perfectionist to start doing better. Such people most often become role models in their fields setting examples of how to continue pursuing their goals with full dedication, hard work and continuous self improvement. The unending need to do better leads to groundbreaking innovations, creative works and high contributions towards various domains.
Impact on mental health
Anxiety and stress
when people start to take perfectionism to extreme levels, they may start to experience chronic anxiety. Their constant need to do better, meet the exceptionally high standards they set for themselves and finally the worry of what might go wrong constantly plagues their mind. Such thoughts set off a positive feedback loop of overthinking, self doubt, and worry of potential flaws in their work. If this anxiety is not controlled in time, it can have a significant negative impact of the person’s physical, mental and emotional well-being.
Fear of failure
This is another factor that comes with perfectionism. Perfectionists start attaching their worth to their achievements. This makes any perceived failure on setback a personal regret for them. Such form of fear can cause them to feel paralyzed and afraid to even start a task. Their fear of not achieving the goals they set for themselves drives them to the arms of heightened fear.
Exhaustion and Burnout
The constant need to have everything perfect and anticipating every pitfall one might encounter leads to such people getting burned out. They refuse to take breaks, engage with friends or even have a life beyond their current project. Their work starts to consume them. This puts a lot of pressure on them. They keep working till they cannot work at all. This is the state of burnout, which in turn has a negative effect on their productivity and diminishes the joy of passionate pursuits.
Struggles in relationships
Having unrealistic expectations
Unfortunately the high standards that perfectionists set, not only apply to them but also to those close to them. This can create a difficult situation in their relationships since the unrealistic expectation that has been set by the perfectionist makes it difficult of their loved ones to meet. Eventually these constant demands can lead to tension and unhappiness.
Difficulty in collaboration projects
The pillars of a good collaboration are communication, delegation, compromise and flexibility. Since perfectionists are normally driven by the need to work in a specific manner, successful collaboration is very hard for them. They will try to take control over all the aspects since as per them only they can deliver the least result.
Strain in personal relationships
As mentioned before, the perfectionists need for their loved ones to also be perfect put a strain on relationships. Another factor that contributes to this factor is the perfectionist’s own folly. Such people get so immersed in being the best at their work that they don’t realise when they start ignoring those close to them. There run behind being prefect may cause them to start lacking empathy, understanding of what others are going through and make them emotionally unavailable. This makes it very difficult for such people to have healthy and positive emotional connections with others.
Paralysis and procrastination
Most often perfectionists have to struggle with whether they should start a project or not. Even before saying “yes” to the project, a perfectionist will think of atleast 10 different ways in which it can go wrong. Their procrastination is fueled by their own high standards and fear of failure. This in turn leads to a paradoxical loop. The perfectionist thinks of how he can combat every issue that may arise after starting the project and this in turn makes the task even more difficult. This causes them to procrastinate even before they say Yes to the project. Procrastination also hinders their other tasks, delays their work and roles performance.
Furthermore the constant fear of failure puts them in a paralysis mode. Thy find themselves unable to proceed with the project itself because of their fear of committing a mistake. If there work is anything less than perfect, it can cause them to spiral into a state of paralysis. They may find themselves unable to move forward. It’s not impossible to break out of this cycle but it requires a lot of reevaluation and strategy development so they can overcome their procrastination.
Impairment in decision making
It is pretty difficult for perfectionists to take decisions easily because of the overwhelming need that they have for each of their choice to be flawless. Their constant reappling fear puts them in a state of over-analysis, indecisiveness and finally an excess consumption of their mental and physical energy. This tendency to hesitate can greatly reduce their progress professionally or in scenarios where they have to be quick at taking decisions.
Another issue that perfectionists face is their mindset of constantly second-guessing their decisions. This prevents such individuals from completely trusting their own gut feelings or instincts.
Dissatisfaction in their career.
Even though the need for a perfectionist to be best at everything makes then amazing at their work, its not without its pitfalls. Such people find it hard to find satisfaction in their career paths.. It is very hard for them to be happy with what they achieved. Once they complete one goal, they immediately fix their sights on the next goal. They also focus on areas where they feel they could have done better. This relentless pursuit towards betterment causes burnout, accumulation of unattainable goals and finally, a lack of fulfillment when the goal is not completed.
Mechanisms of coping and solutions
Recognize and understanding perfectionism tendencies
The road to recovery always starts with first understanding the problem. Before you can work to overcome the negative factors, you have to recognize and acknowledge your tendencies, starting with the unrealistic goals you set for yourself. You also have to focus on being mindful about the physical, emotional and mental well being that your perfectionism may put on you.
Develop a mindset of growth
To achieve an adaptable and flexible mindset, you have to move your perspective away from your all-or-nothing approach towards an approach that has room for flexibility. Start looking at your mistakes as your chance of learning and growing. This will reduce the fear of failure from your mind. It will also help you build resilience and a more positive outlook towards challenges.
Set realistic goals for yourself.
High standards are a double edged sword. They push you to do better. But at the same time they make you work towards goals that may not be realistic. Thus, from now on focus on setting realistic expectations and goals. Break down your large tasks into small chunks and celebrate the smallest of progresses. When you set realistic goals, you can maintain the motivation without feeling the overwhelming weight of perfection.
Seek support and professional help.
It’s not easy to get rid of bad habits, much less ones that are as deep rooted as perfectionism. It can be very challenging to come out of it alone. Seek support from family, friends and mentors who can encourage and provide you with valuable perspectives. Furthermore, you can also opt for professional help like counseling/therapy. These can play a vital role in helping you address the underlying concerns and root causes of the problem. They can also work with you on cognitive behavioral therapy so you learn to neframe your thoughts towards the right direction.
Learn to embrace your imperfections
Defining success beyond perfection
We define what success is. If you chose to redefine success to include building resilience, personal growth and adaptability, you will not only be successful, you will also be better able to handle stress. You have to explain to yourself that perfectionism is not the trait to run behind. Perfectionism is unattainable. You must focus on the journey of self-improvement and being a better person instead of fixing your goals on an ideal standpoint.
Embrace your mistakes
Mistakes are an inevitable part of our journey. We must learn to embrace them as opportunities for learning on the way. Instead of looking at your mistakes as colossal failures, look at them as valuable lessons that help you faster a constructive and positive approach towards handling setbacks.
Working towards excellencence and giving your 200% to your task is commendable. However balance is critical for managing work and life. It is crucial that you develop a lifestyle that embraces leisure, relaxation and self care. Focus on developing a well-rounded life where your professional and personal front are intertwined with rejuvination and rest. This will ensure your long term well being.
Avoid the perfectionist trap
Do not fall into the common pitfalls of perfectionism. For example,over-committing and inability to delegate. You are not a machine. Before committing to anything, frist check your schedule. Do you have enough time? Can you work on the new project and still have time for your leisure activities? If you can manage everything, great. If you cannot, then either say no or delegate the task to someone else while you focus on stuffs that only you can do.
Maintain a period of 5 to 15 minutes everyday to engage in mindfulness. You can either do mindful yoga, meditation or other forms of mindful exercises. You can also do focused breathing where you just focus on your breath going in and out of your body. These practices will boost your focus and make you
more mindful 8 the present moment.
Focus on self compassion
Recovery is a two step forward and four step backward battle in the initial days. Do not get frustrated if you are not getting your desired results in a week or month. It will take time. You will stumble before you learn to walk. Be kind to yourself. Instead of criticizing yourself, focus on talking to yourself like you would to a friend. Reflect on where things went wrong and adapt to the changes.
Celebrate your progress.
Change is never easy. It’s easy to stay stuck to old habits. However, you have decided to make an effort, and every success along the way deserves to be celebrated. Even if it is a chocolate you reward yourself with, do it. These small gestures and acts of kindness towards yourself will boost your intrinsic motivation to continue working towards your goal.
In this blog post I discussed the good and bad faces of perfectionism. How while lifting you up, it can also take you down. Perfectionism is a complicated trait that can have pretty detrimental effects on your mental health as well. Thus, while you focus on growth and getting better at your job, make sure your feet are firmly stuck to the ground and you aim to accomplish realistically achievable goals. Once you recognize your perfectionist tendencies, you can start focusing on building resilience, finding a balance and embracing imperfection.
As we move forward from this point on, learn to refine your success, celebrate your progress and focus on developing a culture where authenticity, values, resilience and growth are the primary focuses. Your journey should focus on making you the best version of yourself. Imperfectionism is by no means a flaw. It is the testament to your canvas of transformation and growth .
If you have any queries, ideas or suggestions about this blog post on any other on Guilt Free Mind, feel free to put them down in the comment section. I will be happy to answer them. If you wish to lead a more productive and positive life, please subscribe to Guilt free Mind. If you like watching videos, subscribe to the YouTube channel of Guilt Free Mind. Remember to ring the notification bell so YouTube notifies you the moment a new blog post releases from the channel.
See you in my next blog post.
Frequently Asked Questions
Perfectionists establish unreasonably high expectations for themselves and frequently experience ongoing pressure to be faultless, which can result in elevated stress, anxiety, and despair.
Relationships can be strained by perfectionists’ high standards for other people. This may result in annoyance, disillusionment, and trouble cooperating or embracing flaws in other people.
Perfectionists may put off or postpone duties out of a fear of failing or not living up to their own expectations. This avoidance can perpetuate a pattern of unproductive behavior and impede one’s ability to progress both personally and professionally.
Perfectionism can impede innovation by encouraging a fear of making mistakes and restricting the willingness to take chances. One’s capacity to embrace alternative ideas, explore, and think beyond the box may be restricted by the relentless quest of perfection.