‘Do you often feel the rigid need to get everything right? Feel worried about what will people think if you don’t get it right. Are you mostly stuck in the loop of rechecking your work and making it better, ultimately missing deadlines? If you relate to this then you might be familiar with perfectionism. It’s a term that gets thrown around a lot, but what exactly does it mean? Let’s dive into understanding perfectionism.
Think of it as your inner voice always pushing you to be your absolute best, to never mess up, to feel like the best version of yourself, and basically be absolutely perfect in everything you do. Perfectionists tend to set the bar sky-high for themselves, and oftentimes they do the same for others. They believe that the only way to reach these super high standards is by never messing up or never having any imperfections whatsoever. Anything less than perfection? Nope, that’s just not acceptable. And when things don’t go exactly as planned, they can get pretty stressed about it.
Imagine someone who spends an excessive amount of time erasing and rewriting a handwritten note because they want the letters to be perfectly neat and evenly spaced. They become frustrated if even a small smudge or imperfection remains on the paper and might redo the entire note multiple times to achieve what they consider a flawless result. This fixation on getting every detail exactly right, even for a simple note, illustrates perfectionistic tendencies.
For instance, think about someone who used to spend hours meticulously checking every email she sent for errors, fearing any mistakes. Now, she proofreads briefly but focuses on efficient communication. She realized that occasional slip-ups don’t define her competence, and her newfound approach allows her to save time and reduce stress.
You know, perfectionism comes with some pretty characteristic traits. Think of someone you know who’s a perfectionist. Firstly, there’s the whole high standards thing—perfectionists set the bar impossibly high for themselves, making anything less than perfection feel unacceptable. You know, the type who always aims for the stars and doesn’t settle for anything less than perfection. Then there’s this intense fear of failure like they dread making even the tiniest mistake, which can sometimes make them freeze up or put things off.
Now, imagine they’re faced with a challenging task, like a big work project. Instead of diving in, they start procrastinating. Why? Because they’re scared of making even the tiniest mistake. It’s like they’re frozen by the fear of not getting it absolutely right. And when they do mess up, they’re masters at rumination; they just can’t let go of those mistakes and are their own toughest critics. It’s this all-or-nothing thinking, too, where if they can’t do something perfectly, they’d rather not do it at all.
They do make a mistake (we all do! ), but they can’t let it go. They keep replaying it in their mind and being super hard on themselves. Plus, they’re detail-obsessed, analyzing everything to the last detail, which can sometimes lead to inefficiency. They’re kind of all-or-nothing thinkers. If they can’t do something perfectly, they’d rather not do it at all. Plus, they’re the detail detectives, examining every little thing closely. Constantly evaluating themselves, making endless comparisons to others, and tying their self-worth to achievements—it’s all a part of the package. If they don’t come out on top, it feels like a major blow.
Delegating tasks? Nope, that’s tough for them because they believe no one else can meet their standards. And believe it or not, their fear of not being perfect sometimes leads to procrastination, which is ironic. All of this can take a toll on their mental and physical health, leading to stress, anxiety, and even strained relationships due to those relentless demands for perfection.
Perfectionism, with its impossible standards and fear of making mistakes, can hold us back and stress us out. It’s important to strike a balance and accept that nobody’s perfect. Ask yourself: Are high standards motivating or paralyzing? Can we learn from our mistakes?
Of course, there’s much more to explore on this topic, but we hope this has shed some light on it. If you suspect you might be a perfectionist, be sure to check out our other blogs on this subject.