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When considering this question, some would say no, but this question for someone who battles with perfectionism may be hard to answer. Perfectionism is the belief that you can do most all things close to perfect. It is usually paired with a fear of failure and unrealistic goals. Often times creating an internal inability to enjoy life, have fun, relax and be present. Do you struggle to want everything to be perfect? Do you feel like a failure if the outcome of a task is not what you planned? If this sounds familiar to you, I hope this blog can encourage you in taking steps to give yourself grace and kindness.

Is This Perfectionism?

An important step to change anything is recognizing a need for change. If you have lived the majority of your life as a perfectionist, you may not realize your desire for things to be perfect. It can be so second nature to some, they see it as who they have to be. Having internal expectations for everything to have a near perfect outcome can affect our lives and relationships. If you are relating to this as you read through, you may find the below characteristics common for you. Do you find yourself struggling with the these?

  • Tend to be an all or nothing person, winning being the only answer
  • Crave approval from others for your efforts
  • Results focused
  • Become defensive during feedback
  • Have a highly critical attitude toward others
  • Fear of failure
  • Procrastination
  • Feelings of guilt for not being good enough

If these resonate with you, know that you are not alone. Many factors such as upbringing or trauma can contribute to a tendency to want to be perfect. There is help.

What Does Perfectionism Affect?

When considering the effects of allowing yourself to believe that you are capable of achieving near perfect results in all you attempt, the outcome is mostly negative. While some are able to seemingly achieve many of their goals, it often times comes with a price. Expecting yourself to be able to accomplish what you set out to do perfectly, takes a toll on your body. There are physical, mental and emotional symptoms that can occur. Some of those are listed below.

  • Increased anxiety and depression
  • More susceptible to health problems
  • Inability to share deep thoughts or feelings
  • Strained relationships from projecting high expectations upon them
  • Difficulty being present and in the moment
  • Low self-esteem

Over time allowing yourself to have a constant expectation of things being perfect can lead to multiple issues that can disrupt your everyday life. Like many of our actions, they did not occur and develop overnight, and they will not be improved overnight. Below are suggestions to steps you can take to help yourself in having a more realistic expectation of yourself and others.

How do I Help Perfectionism?

If you see these traits in you and you are ready for change, I encourage you to celebrate recognizing that. The weight of expecting yourself to be good at everything you do is exhausting. We are human. Humans are not capable of achieving good results in every single thing we do. We are going to make mistakes. Some outcomes will be better than others. We learn from trying things that did not go as expected. Remember, we were not born with all the knowledge we need in life. We are constantly taking things in and learning new things. Allowing ourselves the space and freedom to get things wrong and try again not only decreases our stress but teaches us new things along the way. Below are other suggestions that could help you in your journey to becoming less expectant.

  • Celebrate your win, don’t concentrate on the one thing that went wrong
  • Remember that we learn from mistakes
  • Run your goal by someone else, is it reasonable
  • Tell yourself that perfection is not necessary or obtainable
  • Have a list of priorities, not all tasks may get done
  • Talk to someone you trust and voice a concern or fear to them
  • Share something you consider a weakness with someone

Breaking down the barriers of perfectionism can be hard. It can also be rewarding. If you relate to the need to be perfect and you are ready for a change, Upstate Restorative Counseling is here to help. We offer anxiety counseling to help you take steps toward your goal.