Have you ever spent an hour trying to draft an email, nitpicking on the smallest of details? Or have you had difficulty starting a new project because the thought of being average overwhelmed you? Perfectionism, although sometimes considered a positive trait, can be highly detrimental to the brain.
Perfectionist behavior can stem from multiple factors, such as the fear of not being good enough, disapproval, or chronic self-doubt. Perfectionists tend to set unattainable goals for themselves and often achieve much less. This is due to their fixation on imperfections and the fear of failure.
Suppose you are often extremely critical of yourself, seek approval from others, struggle to get things done promptly or invest too much time in pursuing perfection. In that case, chances are you might be a perfectionist. Learning how to manage this trait is important, so it does not consume your life. Read on to find out the dire effects of this trait and how it can harm your way of living.
How Can it be a Negative Attribute?
A trait common to all perfectionists might be the urge to always be in control. This emerges from a deep-rooted fear of failure and rejection. If you consider yourself as one, you may set up unrealistic goals for yourself, which can later lead to feelings of stress and anxiety. You might not pursue certain projects or experiences due to the fear of failure and eventually miss out on great opportunities. This may lead to depression and impact your overall mental well-being.
You may think that perfectionists tend to create highly valuable work and are often successful in all their endeavors. But in reality, this trait might make them counterproductive. They may face multiple setbacks due to the high pressure they impose on themselves. This will create a toxic environment, and they may also resent themselves for not being good enough.
If you can link some of these traits to your personality, you must recognize the signs to relieve yourself from this trait. Given below are certain symptoms that you might exhibit regularly.
1. Being Overly Judgemental
Being highly critical or judgemental of yourself is one of the most significant sources of perfectionism. You tend to fail when you are overly critical of your performance. Negative self-criticism can limit your growth, and you might get easily annoyed or frustrated with yourself whenever things go wrong. For instance, if you, as a beginner, compare your work to a professional and feel discontent due to the lack of perfection, you are a victim of perfectionism. Although spotting mistakes and identifying small imperfections can be a good trait, it can easily become a problem if you obsess over them.
Having a harsh inner critic can destroy your self-confidence and lead to various mental health issues. To avoid being overly judgemental, you must acknowledge your thoughts and pay attention to your feelings. Recognizing the patterns of your thoughts is the first step to eliminating the self-critic that often pulls you down. You can also practice mindfulness to eradicate the pessimistic attitude.
Be proud of your achievements to silence the inner critic that says you’re not good enough. Set realistic goals, journal your feelings, and practice the art of kindness. Remember that you’re only human at the end of the day.
2. Setting Goals Too High
Unrealistic goals are unattainable or severely impractical aspirations. Setting these goals can eventually lead to huge amounts of stress and burnout. In our journey to achieve greatness, we set up unfeasible goals, often forgetting to account for the resources and the energy required to attain them.
While setting goals, you might aim high due to your overconfident nature, often attaching your self-esteem to the said goals. When the goal does not come to fruition, you might get stressed and question your self-worth. Unattainable goals often fail, and fixating on failures may lead to depression or self-critical thoughts.
Being goal-oriented is an efficient way to recognize your potential, but you should also be open to failure and learn how to manage or react to it. Start by celebrating small wins. For instance, if you have read 50 pages instead of the desired 100, be proud of yourself for achieving a part of it. You can also alter your goals according to the resources available at your disposal. It would help if you learned how to gracefully accept failure and move on instead of dwelling on the fact that you failed. Reflect upon what went wrong, and take the necessary steps to rectify them. This will immensely improve your self-confidence and motivate you to perform better.
3. Feeling Depressed If You Don’t Meet Your Standards
An important sign often noticed in perfectionists is how unrealistic expectations negatively affect their mental well-being. If you position yourself too high, you might set yourself up for failure. For instance, if you expect to achieve straight A’s in your test series, or thought you had a sure shot of getting into your dream school, you might elicit a strong emotional response if you fail.
Our reality is often different from the standards that we set for ourselves. Failing to achieve what you set out for might discourage you from pursuing your goals further and can lead you into a downward spiral of depression. It is important to set realistic expectations and not be fixated upon the outcome, as they are usually outside our control.
Although it might be difficult to let go of sky-high standards, you should try to create a process plan that does not focus on the output but on the instances that are under your control. This can immensely reduce the weight of expectations on your shoulders and help you lead a life with fewer disappointments.
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Avoiding or putting off tasks for a later date are signs of perfectionism. In certain scenarios, you might not deem a task worth doing if it isn’t perfect. Procrastination emerges from the fear of failure. The “if you don’t do it, you can’t fail” mindset can set you back on your schedule and cause endless delays in getting your work done.
Procrastination is inherently linked to perfection. We are often afraid to start because we don’t want to execute the idea hibernating in our heads, for it might be full of flaws and imperfections. Instead, we wait, and we wait until the deadlines are looming upon us. This may cause immense stress and anxiety, which can negatively affect our performance.
Although easier said than done, one of the ways to reduce procrastination is to trust the process. Set low expectations for yourself and perform one task at a time, so it does not seem daunting. Incorporate mindfulness into your life and stop waiting for the perfect moment to begin. Don’t forget to reward yourself once you have accomplished what you set out to do!
5. Being Defensive
Perfectionists use defense as a coping mechanism to protect their sense of competence. Any criticism from an outsider might feel like an attack on their capabilities. Oftentimes, they tend to attach their achievements to their self-worth and get defensive when that is questioned.
Being a perfectionist, you might care intensely about what other people think. This may impact the way you take feedback from others. Although they might be useful, you might disregard their opinions and act defensively. Due to your desire to succeed, you may regard the inputs you receive as unfavorable.
To combat the defensive nature, you must not fixate on the imperfections but ask for feedback. This will not only create a healthier environment but will also destroy any self-doubts that may occur. Constructive and effective feedback can lead to the great enhancement of your work and can help you create something that you might be proud of.
6. Suffering From Low Self-Esteem
The root cause of unhealthy perfectionism is the belief that you might not be good enough. A poor self-image may lead you to set unrealistic standards for yourself and others. You might begin to push yourself to work harder, leading to quick burnout. Low self-esteem may make you extremely critical and judgemental of things, allowing you to see only imperfections and flaws in your performance or work.
We all want to climb up the ladder rapidly, but we must not lose sight of reality. Setting goals that are impractical due to low self-worth are bound to fail. It is important to note that low self-esteem may emerge due to demanding teachers, inquisitive parents, or constant comparison with peers and professionals.
Perfection may make you believe you are not worthy of a job, love, or goals until you have positioned yourself as perfect. This feeling can bring about depression and other mental health issues if not rectified. To boost your self-esteem, you should try to acknowledge the fact that perfection is subjective and does not exist. Do not get motivated by self-doubt or rejection. Instead, celebrate your achievements. Let your wins be the driving factor for excellence.
7. The Desire for Approval
The strong desire for approval in perfectionists might propagate from deep-rooted insecurity. We seek approval from others to validate and feel good about ourselves. Our focus shifts from ourselves to others as we aim to please. This ultimately sets us up for disappointment.
The desire for constant approval may stop you from challenging yourself or starting new projects because you might fear failing. You may begin to lead a life based on others’ expectations instead of your own. This will hurt your goals, your effectiveness, and your life.
The need for validation may be holding you back from living your desired life. It is essential to focus on your priorities and the expectations that you have set for yourself to remain unaffected by disapproval. When the need for approval entirely drives you, you might get overwhelmed and find yourself overworking to avoid disappointing others.
It is important to figure out what makes you happy or your driving force. Begin evaluating yourself and journal your thoughts to get a clear picture of your wants and needs. Once you start living in line with your beliefs, you may have a happier, uncomplicated life. Make conscious choices, take feedback, and build resilience not to get affected by what other people might think. Although it is not easy to let go of such habits, believing in your values can make you highly self-aware and make it easier for you to step out of your comfort zone.
Seek Help From a Trusted Professional With DocVita Today!
While a certain amount of perfectionism is healthy, it is important to recognize when it turns into a negative trait. The specialists at DocVita could help you identify and work on your negative traits through the appropriate form of therapy. Book a call with an understanding therapist to lead the life that you desire today!