hen we delve into the process of perfectionism, the cause and effects, we uncover some scientific facts that may be debilitating not only to perfectionists, but all those around them.
Studies show one of the drawbacks of perfectionism is that it tends to go hand in hand with procrastination. Often delaying the beginning of a task due to imperfect conditions, too many possibilities and unable to choose which is the best option, or fear of making a mistake. It may also lead to a failure to meet deadlines, as a perfectionist will desire to complete a task “perfectly” or “properly” regardless of what time frames are set.
Perfectionism can also affect all those around a perfectionist. Unrealistic expectations placed upon others causes stress, feeling unappreciated or not being good enough. Even if a perfectionist only places these expectations upon themselves, others can often intrinsically feel like they have to live up to the standard set and may feel the weight of failure if they fall short. This can be real or perceived.
Unfortunately a common character trait of a perfectionist is low self-esteem, as they are often critical, quick to see imperfections and what is wrong with a project or person. Many times they focus this attention to detail internally, only highlighting the numerous imperfections in themselves. In some cases this can lead to bouts of depression.
Studies have shown there are subtle yet paramount differences between a perfectionist and a high achiever. The good news is, with some simple neuro-association changes, a perfectionist can take the pressure off. They can become more time efficient and enjoy the fruits of their labour, regardless of their outcomes.
The critical difference between the two is that high achievers give themselves permission to make mistakes. They accept themselves warts and all, continuing to nurture personal growth. Yes they aim high, are driven and focussed on achieving the goal, but are able to celebrate a good result even if it is not perfect. They work on improvements for next time, accepting and learning from criticism and are often coupled with high self-esteem.
If you have some perfectionist tendencies, why not set yourself the task to be perfectly imperfect? You will be guaranteed to achieve it! Set a goal to learn from your mistakes, and look for opportunities to be kind to yourself. Measure yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, how happy am I, what is my stress level, Am I giving myself grace? Measure at the end of each month to keep you on track.
Acknowledge your achievements not merely perfection. You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge! I didn’t consider myself a perfectionist, did you?