Perfectionism can be a blessing, but it can easily turn into a curse. That’s when it’s called perfectionism disorder.
But what is perfectionism disorder actually?
It’s when you want to be perfect, when you refuse to accept any standard short of perfection.
Do you often set unrealistically high standards and are unsatisfied with anything that doesn’t live up to your expectations? – Welcome to the perfectionism disorder club.
There are many causes for perfectionism, but the most common one is a parent with excessive expectations. Children often establish beliefs like:
“No matter what I do, I’m not good enough.”
Or how about this one?
“They won’t love me if I’m not perfect. I have to be flawless to deserve his/her approval.”
You could ask the question: Well, what’s so bad about trying to do your best?
Pitfalls of Perfectionism
There are many ways how perfectionism can cause problems. It can cause anxiety and obsessive compulsive behavior.
It can also prevent you from getting things done.
It often leads to low self-esteem.
It can make you rigid, where you turn into a person who must do things “the right way” and make you lack spontaneity.
It can alienate you from the people around you, and cause a sense of loneliness, even when you are surrounded by others.
Perfectionism disorder is also a major risk factor for depression.
Perfectionists are more likely to commit suicide, according to research conducted by Yale University psychologist Sydney Blatt. It’s even bigger risk factor than feeling of hopelessness.
How To Get Over Perfectionism
There are many ways to reduce perfectionism. One is to purposefully allow yourself to make mistakes in front of others, and then practice doing so. For example, if you’re not good at telling jokes, just tell a couple of jokes every day and try to be funny. If you’re usually dressed tastefully, then just wear clothes that don’t match.
When you’re in a conversation, make a statement or argue an opinion that you know is wrong – so wrong that your conversation partner will point it out to you and correct you. Do things you know you’re not good at – for example, if you think you’re not artistic, sign up for a drawing class and paint pictures without fear, even if they are badly drawn. If you’re not good at sports, start to play tennis or soccer or sign up for a Pilates class. If you’re not good at public speaking, find a local Toastmasters and become a member.
And accept that you are “just” a human being – not a superhuman being. And human beings are bound to make mistakes – it’s part of life, and it’s ok. In fact, mistakes can often be the greatest teacher. So allow yourself to learn from mistakes.
Forgive yourself your own imperfections and weaknesses.
If you’re a perfectionist, you’re also very likely to engage in critical self-talk. Make sure you pay attention to your inner critic, and the words the he or she tells you. And then alter your inner critic – make it use kinder words and a more gentle and respectful tone. So instead of saying: “You’re such an idiot for having messed that up.” You could tell yourself: “That didn’t go the way you planned. Learn from that and do it better next time.”
If you’re a perfectionist, you probably strive to reach a certain ideal. And ideals are great – but realize that ideals are not there to be achieved 100% – they are meant to motivate, guide and inspire you.
And accept yourself the way you are.
Don’t get so worked up about how you “should be”.
A lot of perfectionism happens outside of your conscious mind. We’re dealing with automatic thought patterns and deeply-ingrained emotional responses. It’s not easy to change that, but thousands of perfectionists have done so already – and you can too.
You can speed up that process of overcoming perfectionism disorder even more by using self hypnosis. Even perfectionists find deep relaxation in hypnosis, which allows you to loosen up and be fine with things even if they aren’t 100% perfect.