Perfectionism or High Standards?

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Most people strive to do their best and that’s a good thing? It’s human nature to want to succeed at the things you do and our global culture encourages us to strive for our best. But when does striving for achievement become perfectionism?

In simple terms perfectionist tendencies are the combination of wanting to do our very best, while feeling like we never actually do. Almost like striving to attain a standard that cannot be satisfied.

Having high standards is about pursuing excellence, about believing that everything matters even the small stuff, to gain success or achievement. Without this outlook or belief, one could say, everyone and everything would stay mediocre.

However you can see how this is different from perfectionism, which is more focused on not making any mistakes or having flaws.

WHEN PERFECTIONISTS MAKE MISTAKES, IT FEELS LIKE A COMPLETE FAILURE, THEY FIXATE ON THE NEGATIVE, AND LONGER TERM CAN HAVE ANXIETY OR DEPRESSION OVER THEIR PERCEIVED FLAWS.

WHEN PEOPLE WITH HIGH STANDARDS MAKE MISTAKES, THEY CAN FORGIVE THEMSELVES, SEE IT AS BEING HUMAN AND LEARNING, AND ARE NOT DETERRED FROM THEIR PURSUIT.

Sometimes the patterns of tendencies for perfectionists end up causing more harm than good. If the following sounds familiar, then you might have perfectionist tendencies…

Feeling like you will fail no matter what you do
Thoughts of failure and inadequacy are a classic symptoms of perfectionism. Even if it’s something you do all the time, you’re worried that you could mess it up or not get it right.

Critique yourself all the time
This can cause self-esteem issues and feed feelings of inadequacy. This fear can stop you from performing the task altogether.

Being a chronic procrastinator
Fearing the final outcome won’t be good enough. So therefore it seems to be a see saw ride on whether to do it or not…..because what if it doesn’t work out and you’ll feel like a failure.

Controlling in relationships
When you’re always striving for perfection, you may also seek it out in those around you. This may not be a conscious thing, but can show up as criticism or endless comments about the other person and what and how they do things. What they’re wearing, their driving, shopping, cooking……unwanted advice about all matter of things.

You believe you know what’s best for them, or you feel they can do better. But are you impressing your own perfectionism out on them? This can create problems in a relationship if the partner always feels criticized or controlled.

Over analysing – big stuff, small stuff
Perfectionists tend to overanalyse everything – from what they wear, how they interact with others, what others think of them, their driving, how they eat, their home and how it looks and so on. It’s great to have self-awareness, but overanalysing everything can quickly become overwhelming, especially if you can’t let things go.

Giving ourselves the space to be human is important – making mistakes, not succeeding is what it is to be human, is actually a big part of how we learn.

Setting unrealistic standards
Perfectionists regularly set unrealistic standards for both themselves and often other people. This can be seen in their work life and personal life. They can always find reasons to turn achievement into failure.

Struggle with friendships
Sometimes it’s easier to isolate than inflict perfectionism on others. Often relationships don’t work out because of the impossible standards. It can become incredibly lonely and draining.

If any of the above symptoms seem familiar to you, or someone you know then there is a chance of perfectionism.

If perfectionism is creating major problems in day to life then maybe it’s time to seek help. There are many ways to make changes! A therapist can help recognise how perfectionism is controlling areas of your life and how you can make changes and see things in a different life. Perfect doesn’t have to be the only standard you know.

Remember, perfection isn’t a truly attainable goal!

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