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Perfectionism: When Striving for Excellence Holds You Back

perfectionism help

In the pursuit of excellence, many of us unknowingly interact with a silent partner: perfectionism. While striving for the best can be commendable, there's a fine line between healthy ambition and the paralyzing grip of perfectionism. You may have even experienced validation and praise for being perfect at something throughout your years or even the opposite, of hearing that you would receive that validation or praise if you are perfect. If you've ever found yourself missing deadlines in the quest for the "perfect" outcome or feeling like you're constantly procrastinating, let's journey together into the world of perfectionism and discover ways to find balance.

What is Perfectionism?

Perfectionism isn't just about wanting to do things well; it's the relentless pursuit of flawlessness. It's setting excessively high-performance standards, often paired with overly critical self-evaluations and concerns about others' judgments. In essence, it's the belief that anything short of perfect is unacceptable, and that things can always improve. Like you are always striving for 100% but you keep telling yourself you are hitting the mark at 99% (or even an extreme like 0%).

The Perfectionism-Procrastination: Double-Edged Sword

At first glance, perfectionism and procrastination might seem like opposites. But delve a little deeper, and they are quite intertwined. Perfectionism can feel a lot like procrastination because the fear of not achieving flawlessly can lead to avoidance. You may find yourself nervous to start something whether it is that class assignment, planning out that work project, sending that email, or even completing household chores, it is too hard to start as you want to do it right and perfect the first time… but we don’t always know what that looks like while standing at the “starting line”.

Strategies to Ease the Stress of Perfectionism

Breaking free from perfectionism's grip doesn't mean letting go of your standards. It's about finding a healthier balance while still reaching your goals:

  • Set Realistic Expectations: Aim for excellence, not perfection. Recognize that mistakes are part of growth.

  • Break Tasks into Steps: Instead of viewing a project as one colossal task, break it down. Celebrate small victories along the way. For instance, an upcoming project may feel daunting or even cleaning your house… break down parts of the project or tasks.

  • Limit Self-Criticism: Be kind to yourself. Replace critical thoughts with constructive feedback. In order to grow, we have to learn, and with learning comes understanding and at times mistakes. It is changing our perspective on what mistakes mean.

  • Set Boundaries… with Yourself: Allocate specific times for tasks and stick to them. This can prevent endless tweaking in search of the elusive "perfect" outcome.

  • Practice Mindfulness: Techniques like meditation can help ground you in the present moment, reducing the anxiety that perfectionism often brings.

A Mental Health Therapist Specializing in Perfectionism

A therapist with expertise in perfectionism can offer invaluable insights. They provide a safe space to explore the roots of your perfectionistic tendencies, whether they stem from past experiences, societal pressures, or internal beliefs. Through tailored strategies and therapeutic techniques, they can guide you towards a more balanced and fulfilling approach to your goals.

It's essential to remember that it's the imperfections, the trials, and the errors that add depth and character. Embracing the journey, with all its ups and downs, can lead to a richer, more authentic experience. If perfectionism has been your silent partner, perhaps it's time to shake things up and put distance between both of you.

Are you looking for a therapist to help with perfectionism? Discover the convenience of online therapy with Better Minds Counseling & Services. We specialize in assisting adults with perfectionism through our virtual mental health services. Brittany Webb, LPC CCATP, a certified clinical anxiety treatment expert and licensed professional counselor, is ready to help you lift the weight of perfectionism. Schedule your free introductory session with her today!

Blog Disclaimer - These posts are not meant to treat, diagnose, or serve as a replacement for therapy. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health emergency, please contact your local crisis center or dial 911. Here are more immediate resources as well.


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