It is a personality trait characterized by a person's striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high performance standards, accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others' evaluations. -from Wikipedia
A disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable -Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
Perfectionistic people tend to aim for perfect and feel great if they reach perfection but more often fall short and feel like a failure. The feeling of failure stalks them and cries out even at 95% because of that missing 5%. If you have ever had the feeling that you focus on the one small piece negative feedback rather than the huge successful part, you have experienced this feeling.
Another aspect of perfectionism is rigid thinking. So, something is either perfect or not - there is no room for anything in between such as ‘good enough’ or ‘okay’. What this means is that there is tremendous pressure to do things ‘right’ (which is another rigid way of thinking) and huge negative emotions if anything is ‘wrong.’
The more common aspects of negative feelings are depression, anxiety, or obsessing about things such as a project you have to work on, feedback someone else, worrying that something you said or did is somehow creating a catastrophe, and focusing on tiny details.
Perfectionistic type people come to therapy to work on things like body image, low self-esteem, feeling stressed out by performing at work and/or the relationships with coworkers or bosses, feeling unlikable or unlovable, battling failure feelings and disordered eating.
Change is a process. It takes time to change how we think, act and feel. Outside of therapy, you can work on setting time limits for how long you work on projects and allowing small mistakes. You can aim for 80% instead of 100%. You can ask yourself how much this matters in the grand scheme of things. And you can ask yourself if it would matter if a friend was telling you that it happened to them. There are some great tips on anxiety bc’s website about overcoming perfectionism. And of course, therapy can be immensely helpful in dealing with the negative and uncomfortable feelings that come up as you push yourself to change.
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