Sick and tired of trying to be perfect? Here’s some information about perfectionism, and the troubles it can cause…

Trying to be perfect can be exhausting. As perfection rarely or doesn’t exist, the pursuit of it often generates a lot of anxiety trying to achieve perfection, and feelings of defeat and disappointment when perfection isn’t achieved. It is also closely linked to procrastination, and trying to be perfect contributes to many common mental health conditions, as well as difficulties in relationships.

Perfectionism manifests in a variety of ways. These ways can include: inordinate attention to detail, or an underestimate of how good one’s own performance is relative to the norm; rigid rules and “shoulds” in many areas of life, including unrealistically high moral, ethical, cultural, or religious precepts; and preoccupation with time and efficiency, so that more can be accomplished.

People who hold perfectionistic beliefs are often motivated by the fear of failure or by a sense of duty. They feel driven to achieve highly but often find the satisfaction that comes from results doesn’t last long. There is often a deep underlying feeling of not being good enough or worthy, and a feeling that one must be very ‘special’ or intelligent or successful to be loved and accepted by others. Often there is a terrified feeling associated with the idea of failing, and a pervasive feeling of being perceived of as a failure of a person, if something doesn’t work out.

Sometimes perfectionism manifests in other ways, such as feeling a need to always be strong and in control of emotions. This can mean a reluctance to share vulnerable feelings like sadness, insecurity, or anger with others, as the fear is that others would think less of you.

Perfectionism is not quite the same as trying to achieve the best one can realistically achieve, the latter of which involves having difficult but achievable goals. Rather it involves a belief that one must never make mistakes and the highest standards of performance must always be achieved. It is often accompanied by a strong inner critic, and harsh self-talk. Sometimes this critical element extends outwards towards others – that is, others are held to perfectionistic standards as well which results in frequent disappointment, and sometimes – cutting others out of one’s life (this comment does not negate the need for strong boundaries and space from some people, particularly those that are abusive, toxic or unhealthy to be around).

The impact of perfectionism can be significant, leading to exhaustion, burnout, difficulty experiencing joy and having fun, procrastination, low self esteem, and impacts on relationships, among others.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you would like some help. To enquire about an appointment at Moving Forward Clinical Psychologists, please complete our Online Contact Form, and a member of our team will be in touch shortly. Alternatively, please call us on 1300 133 013. Our experienced Clinical Psychologists are located in Terrigal (10 minutes from Erina) on the beautiful NSW Central Coast. We are also available Australia wide, via Telehealth.