Trying to be perfect all the time can be exhausting. Are you ready for a change? In this article, Sydney life coach, Tina Monk, discusses what constitutes perfectionism and how you can minimise perfectionistic traits to reduce anxiety and return inner peace.
What constitutes perfectionism and why does it lead to depression and anxiety?
If you’re confused about whether you’re a perfectionist, there is a good chance you are one, at least to some degree. It’s important to educate yourself about what constitutes perfectionism and why it’s seen as a negative condition, so you can decide how much you want to work at minimising these perfectionistic traits, and find out how to do this.
Having high standards is a good thing, aiming for excellence can show that you have a good work ethic and strength of character. Setting high standards can also push you to reach your peak level of performance.
Perfectionism is like a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can motivate you to perform at a high level and, on the other hand, it can cause you unnecessary anxiety and slow you down.
Perfectionism involves a tendency to set standards that are so high that they either cannot be met, or are only met with great difficulty. Perfectionists believe that anything short of perfection is shameful and that even minor imperfections will lead to catastrophe.
Perfectionism can make you feel frustrated and it can lead to depression or anxiety. Eventually, it can also lead you to stop trying to succeed. Even mild cases can interfere with your quality of life, affecting your personal relationships and your behaviour in the workplace.
Learning to recognise perfectionism
The first step is extremely important, as it helps you to figure out whether you have a problem with perfectionism. There is nothing wrong with having high standards, but when these standards are too high, they can really affect your behaviour in the workplace, relationships, and quality of life.
If you find it difficult to figure out whether you have a problem with perfectionism, try to answer these questions: Do I have trouble meeting my own standards? Do I often feel frustrated, anxious, or angry while trying to meet my standards? Have I been told that my standards are too high?
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you may have a problem with perfectionism.
Also, you may experience perfectionism if you feel like you fail at everything and you procrastinate regularly. After all, never starting is a good way to ensure we don’t fail.
You struggle to relax and share your thoughts and feelings; you’ve become very controlling in your personal and professional relationships and feel obsessed with rules, lists, and work, or alternately, become extremely apathetic.
Perfectionism drives people to constantly do more than they can reasonably handle. This excess of to-dos quickly leads to chronic stress and burnout. Perfectionism can severely impact our mental and physical health.
Overcoming perfectionism doesn’t mean giving up on getting better!
The first level of perfectionism reduction involves identifying our emotional triggers for this behaviour and substituting alternative coping strategies with fewer downsides.
If we can accept our emotions, rather than run from them, we can remove the need for perfectionism in the first place.
Becoming aware of your tendencies is how you will find yourself in a better position to alter them. Realistic thinking can help you overcome perfectionism.
You need to calibrate your standards and reflect on your progress and achievements. You can reduce a lot of stress by changing your goals. You don’t have to sacrifice the end result, but if you set small, bite-size goals for yourself and reward yourself when you achieve them, you’ll tend to be more forgiving with mistakes.
Perfectionism and dealing with your inner critic
Dealing with your inner critic can be hard, but there are a number of things you can do to silence that voice. Learn to handle criticism. Constructive criticism can give you important clues on how to improve your performance, changing your less-than-perfect performances into useful stepping stones that lead to success.
Need help overcoming perfectionism?
Sydney Career Coaching can help you expand the work you do to reduce the impact of perfectionism on your life and support your progress towards your goals.
We offer qualified and experienced career counselling and coaching, life and personal coaching. Together, we can overcome perfectionism and learn the most important self-management techniques. Self-management means having the skills and confidence to take charge of your needs, everyday roles and responsibilities, and your emotions.
We encourage you to think about your goals and about what you can do to improve self-management in support of those goals.
Complimentary life coaching session
Take advantage of our complimentary life coaching session to determine whether coaching is for you. We provide life coaching advice throughout Australia via Skype and telephone and in person at Neutral Bay on Sydney’s North Shore.
Sydney career and life coach, Tina Monk’s education and professional development has focused mostly on how to understand people and bring out the best in them. Tina has been coaching for 20 years and continues to develop as a coach. Her approach is said to be caring with a bit of ‘tough love’ thrown in! Call or text Tina direct on 0413 000 010.