If you think you might be a chronic perfectionist, you should really take some action and do something to change that, so it won’t affect your happiness in the long term. Do you always feel the need to control everything around you? Have you always been a high achiever or do you feel the need to get every little thing right every single time? If your answer to all these questions is yes, you might have to reconsider your priorities and learn that the universe will not bend to your very will. Just like psychologist David Burns warned in a 1980 Psychology Today essay, "Reaching for the stars, perfectionists may end up clutching at air…[Perfectionists] are especially given to troubled relationships and mood disorders.” If things don’t work out the way they want, most perfectionists tend to sink into depression and they view themselves as failures, no matter how talented and amazing they really are. Pay attention to these next signs you might be a chronic perfectionist that could hold you back, because you shouldn’t let anything stand in the way of your happiness:
Your constant need to always be in control is definitely one of the most important signs you might be a chronic perfectionist. If you’re always the one who takes charge when you are working on a group project, if you dictate the pace and delegate every single task to everyone else involved, then you just need to take it easy for a while because your behavior might affect your relationship with the other members of the group and also, you’ll get tired of doing all the work yourself. Just relax and let go of that constant need to do everything perfectly!
Do you often feel like nothing is ever good enough for you? Even if you’ve had a big success and you’ve reached one of your biggest goals, you still can’t enjoy yourself because all you can think of is the fact that you could have done things better and that there still are a few details you can always improve. Just like Chris Haigh, blogger for lifehack.org, said, “The idea of nothing ever being good enough comes from a deep anxiety of missing out on something that will somehow stop it from being the best representation of yourself.”
According to experts, perfectionism starts early in the childhood. Most children learn from their parents and from their teachers that they need to be high achievers if they want to live a happy and fulfilled life, so they do their best to get straight As and do whatever it takes to please others. This process can be very frustrating when they grow up, because sometimes, no matter how hard you try, things just don’t go according to your plan. Psychologist Monica Ramirez Basco says that "The reach for perfection can be painful because it is often driven by both a desire to do well and a fear of the consequences of not doing well … this is the double-edged sword of perfectionism."
I must confess that this came as a big surprise for me too, but apparently perfectionism is highly correlated with the fear of failure and while its main characteristic is the need to succeed and do everything perfectly, it can also be the thing that prevents you from being successful and from reaching your goals. A lot of studies have shown that the other-oriented perfectionism, which is a maladaptive form of perfectionism and which means the constant need to please others, is linked with the tendency to postpone tasks, basically to procrastinate. On the other hand, adaptive perfectionists are less prone to procrastination because they don’t look for other people’s approval; they need to please themselves first.
Are you constantly being judgmental? Do you tend to criticize the people around you too much? People often tend to reject in others what they can’t accept in themselves. A lot of studies have shown that perfectionists are highly discriminating of others and that “few are beyond the reach of their critical eye.” If you are one of those perfectionists, you could try to avoid being so hard on other people all the time and you’ll see that shortly, you’ll start easing up on yourself.
Do you always feel the need to do everything yourself because you just can’t trust anyone but you? In those situations, try to remember that you are only human, that you don’t have any spectacular super-power and that in time, this behavior might exhaust you and it may affect your happiness. Don’t take every little setback and criticism personally, because there’s no such thing as failure, it’s only feedback!
Do you often do whatever it takes to reach your goals, even if this hurts you? I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to achieve your objectives, just that everything has its limits and if a specific thing is unhealthy, then you shouldn’t do it. Perfectionists are people who will always go to great lengths to avoid being average or mediocre, even if they actually aren’t; they just see themselves this way. David Burns says that "[The perfectionist] acknowledges that his relentless standards are stressful and somewhat unreasonable, but he believes they drive him to levels of excellence and productivity he could never attain otherwise."
It’s hard being a perfectionist. You always feel like you need to be strong and in control of everything, you fear that no one will understand you and nothing ever seems good enough for you. Actually, this kind of thinking is dysfunctional and it the long term, it will only cause you a lot of unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Are you a perfectionist? Have you noticed any other signs you might be a chronic perfectionist? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section!
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