Ditching Perfectionism

Are you constantly beating yourself up for little mistakes? Do you feel like a failure, no matter how hard you try at something? When you find yourself in these situations, does it bring down your overall mood?

If so, you’re probably experiencing perfectionism. There can be healthy levels of perfectionism, which can serve as motivation to help you get through stressful or tough situations. However, once it starts to bring you harm, then you have a problem.

What is Perfectionism?

According to the American Psychological Association, perfectionism is “the tendency to demand of others or of oneself an extremely high or even flawless level of performance, in excess of what is required by the situation.” Essentially, it’s when a person refuses to take anything less than perfection when it comes to:

  • Interpersonal Relationships
  • Academics
  • Professional Obligations 

There are three types of perfectionism, each with their own risks and benefits.

  1. Other-Oriented. Other-oriented perfectionists do not pass judgment on themselves, but on others. They put pressure on other people, expecting them to live up to unrealistically high standards.
  2. Self-Oriented. Self-oriented perfectionists set expectations for themselves that, unfortunately, they may not ever be able to live up to. These goals could be related to anything. Although this type of perfectionist may be able to motivate themself and accomplish success, it only ends up causing harm.
  3. Social Prescribed. Socially prescribed perfectionists focus on what others think about them, constantly comparing themselves to the accomplishments of their friends, family, and sometimes people they don’t even know. A fear of rejection is what drives them to be so critical of who they are as a person, their accomplishments, and more.

How can perfectionism affect your mental health?

For many people, falling into the perfectionism cycle can lead to struggles with your mental health like depression, anxiety, and self-loathing. It can even lead to eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. In addition to negatively impacting your mental health, being a perfectionist can affect how you interact with others – fracturing your personal and professional relationships.

How do I ditch it?

Ditching perfectionism is sometimes easier said than done. Just like getting rid of an old habit, it takes time, effort, and dedication. Because perfectionism has slowly become a cultural standard, it’s hard to break out of the cycle that so many have determined is an essential part of life. The key to switching from a perfectionist mindset is to realize that the standards that you have set are not in stone; it is not necessary to be perfect at everything, all the time. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Have a more thorough goal-setting process.
  • Avoid procrastinating.
  • Get comfortable with making mistakes. 
  • Learn what the root cause behind your perfectionism is. 
  • Try to have a more positive mindset. 

Therapy is a great place to start working towards avoiding perfectionism in your life. At Kentucky Services, our staff are trained in various types of therapies that can help you to ditch perfectionism and start living a life that’s focused on your strengths and abilities. Reach out to us today to schedule an appointment.