The Problems Behind Perfectionism
Once, I considered perfectionism to be a good thing. Yet over the past 10 years working with clients, I see how this has been holding them back.
By Camy Kennedy, Life Coach
10 Ways Perfectionism is Holding You Back From the Life You Want
- Procrastination is the favorite tool of perfectionists. You find yourself getting performance anxiety based on an upcoming deadline or something you know you should get done. Instead of just doing what you can do in the time that you have, you let anxiety take over and resist doing anything at all unless it can be done perfectly.
- You are setting yourself up for failure every time. When you expect every outcome to be perfect all the time, you are setting yourself up to fail. Each time you expect yourself to be perfect and you are not, you let yourself down and lose momentum.
- You are being unrealistic about life in general. Maybe you were a straight A student in High School or the all-star athlete. Part of your identity is tied up in being the best and being perceived as perfect or without fault. This juvenile thinking will constantly disappoint you, as life has a way of turning out far from perfect.
- You think that by pleasing others, you will somehow earn credit and worthiness. Being perfect, to you, is a way to gain respect and admiration of others. By constantly striving to be perfect (which you will never attain) you place too much emphasis on what others think of you and how they will respond to a perceived failure.
- You are still living to exceed others’ expectations for you. Have you looked at your life and determined who you are trying to impress? Maybe it is your parents or other family member who has high standards. Maybe it is your spouse who you fear will leave you if you do not fit into their perfect mold. Maybe you have a fear of losing everything and feel like you must earn your keep by being perfect.
- Perfectionist mentality causes short tempers and inflexibility. Being a perfectionist means that you have an exact expectation for how something is going to be done or take place. You are a planner and an executer, yet you sometimes forget that there will always be things that are outside your control. When things get in the way, or don’t go according to plan, you get frustrated and can lose your temper quickly.
- Perfectionists hold onto expectations with a death grip. You have already set the expectation for your entire life, and when things go off course you can easily spin into a depression spiral. The tight grip you have on your expectations can only lead to disappointment when some things don’t work out accordingly. Your response is to feel like you have failed, and you often will internally exaggerate your mistakes until you feel that you have been punished adequately for your failures.
- Your perfectionist attitude may separate you from the people closest to you. With a high expectation for yourself and others, you may find that you cannot tolerate little mistakes made by others and you will lash out in response. You feel that everyone should be held to your standard, and in turn, you may have less friends and suffer more relationship problems.
- Perfectionism keeps you from admitting your mistakes, connecting with others or sharing your failures. Most times when you make a mistake you feel shameful. You also sometimes respond with anger and place blame elsewhere – which can cause alienation from friends and loved ones. The human connection comes from honesty and openness. Willingness to admit that we are not perfect allows us to connect with others who are not perfect. It makes us more relatable and humbles us to a position where people are more likely to show respect.
- The things you are looking for in perfectionism can usually be found in doing the opposite. For example, taking action instead of procrastinating will always further your projects and your goals. When you are seeking a sense of accomplishment, it should be on the process instead of the outcome. When you look at the outcome being ONE way and no other, you set yourself up for depression and insecurity. Instead, set out to do something the best that you can and take the pressure off of yourself to be perfect. Seeking the admiration of others will often not work if you are striving to be seen as perfect. People will connect better to someone who is real, honest, humble and open about their failures and shortcomings. Those around you may affect the way you view your success or failure. Instead of looking to others’ to affirm you, look within yourself and ask if you have followed your heart to the best of your abilities. Learn that there is not one ‘right way’ to do something, and there is not ‘one outcome’ that will light up your life in the way you are hoping. The secret to overcoming perfectionist mindset and the rigidity that comes with it is to open yourself up to other possibilities and assign the word “success” to those outcomes as well.
In all you do, growing and learning, hoping and dreaming, living and loving, do so with the best intentions. Use your intuition and pay attention to your inner self when it speaks. Perfectionism is an external motivator and abuser that works tirelessly to confine you in a box of shame, guilt and depression. Following a perfect path does not exist, and comparing your path to another’s surely will take you down an arduous one.
Listen to the podcast episode on Perfectionism: www.camykennedy.com/episode25
“When you are seeking a sense of accomplishment, it should be on the process instead of the outcome.” -Camy Kennedy
If you know that perfectionism has been holding you back for way too long, I have a gift for you. A 5 part journal prompt & meditation specifically for you, the recovering perfectionist. Put your best email below and you’ll get it sent to your inbox straight away. (Make sure you check your SPAM folder for an email from firstname.lastname@example.org)