Can perfectionism help or hurt you?

Can perfectionism help or hurt you? Let’s explore this by looking at the definitions, advantages and disadvantages of this very complex word.

Perfectionist word definitions include: flawless, faultless, extreme, obsessive, supreme, excellence, ideal standard, extremely high standards, and doing something well. At first glance, perfectionism should be a virtue, but there’s a lot of pain and frustration associated with it. It can help you do your best or it can immobilize you.

Perfectionism is a result of what we learned in childhood. Social pressure, personal pressure, and having unrealistic role models such as having perfectionists parents.

A competitive and workaholic society contributes to perfectionism.

Having children learn more than their capable of learning contributes to perfectionism.

Advantages of perfectionism include:

* It helps you be a responsible person.

* You’ll more apt to pay attention to detail.

* It gives you pride in doing something well. You’ll have the satisfaction of doing your best and take pride in being prepared.

Negative consequences of perfectionism include:

* Your time and energy are misspent.

* It provides undue stress on yourself and others.

* You get in the habit of thinking whatever needs to be done, has to be done perfectly.

* You set up standards that are impossible to meet.

* You can become a very good second guesser. You use phrases such as could have, should have, and would have.

* Perfectionism causes a distorted look at life. They dwell in the negative past. You’ll maximize your failures and minimize your successes.

* It becomes impossible to enjoy everyday moments. You’ll immediately look for the next challenge.

* You might put goals over health.

* You can become an all or nothing thinker.

* You might needlessly compare yourself to others.

* Perfectionism may cause eating disorders.

* You have a lot of unfinished projects.

* You might be reluctant to try new things.

* You might worry about what others think.

* You may be prone to chronic worrying.

* You may have strong feelings of guilt.

* You might have strong feelings of frustration.

* You may experience unprovoked crying, have the blues, tiredness, headaches, writers block, test anxiety.

Can you relate to any of these? Have I left anything out?

Some interesting tidbits about perfectionism include:

* Perfectionists are often disappointed in the quality of other people’s work.

* Sometimes perfectionists need to be perfect to get the approval of others.

* They set unrealistic goals.

* Perfectionism can cut down on the amount of friendships that you have.

* Perfectionists are not necessarily higher achievers.

* Self-esteem may be lower.

* Perfectionists avoid being average.

* High percentages of perfectionists are first-born.

* High percentages of perfectionists have Type A personalities. A Type A person has issues with time urgency and impatience that causes irritation and exasperation. They may harbor hostility that may be triggered by minor events. They are very driven people who are competitive and always wanting to be the best.

Can you relate to any of these? I can! Especially being a first-born and having a type A personality! Perfectionism has been too much a part of my life. Awareness of the negative aspects of perfectionism has helped me to use it to my advantage and not to my detriment.

Can perfectionism help or hurt you? I’m interested in any thoughts or comments that you have.

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