Perfectionism is not just about ‘being perfect’ or ‘doing things perfectly’.
It’s more about striving for extremely high standards or even holding others to such high standards.
Surely the idea of working really hard to achieve a high standard in our workplace, physical health, homelife, appearance etc is a positive thing right? Well unfortunately the pursuit of EXCESSIVELY high standards can actually lead to worse outcomes.
For example, let’s say that in sitting down to write this blog I was aware of setting myself the goal of writing the best possible blog I could ever write. In order to write ‘the best blog ever’ I would need to spend hours on research, write multiple drafts, obtain reviews from others etc. While this would produce a fantastic article it is totally unrealistic! Holding on tightly to this goal would result in feelings of stress and failure as I inevitably have little chance of reaching the goal (because I do actually lead a full life outside of writing blogs).
In holding on to an excessively high standard…
- I might start to feel disappointed as I realise my efforts are not producing the ideal outcome
- I might start to procrastinate because I’m worried the outcome won’t be good enough
- I might have problems deciding how to proceed
- I might give up all together!
- I might neglect other areas of my life in order to write the perfect blog, and that will lead to further disappointment and stress
- I might find it difficult to unwind and relax as I continue to focus on this task
And if I judge myself harshly based on the quality of my blog…
- I might start to fret and lose confidence if I don’t get a certain number of ‘likes’ when the blog is published or if others don’t tell me “wow that’s the best blog ever”
If I were to be unrelenting in my pursuit of ‘the best blog ever’ I would certainly encounter negative consequences as described above. And if I were to also harshly judge my worth on the quality of the blogs I write, then I would most certainly feel a deep sense of disappointment in myself.
Hence the paradox of perfectionism.
If this is something you are interested in learning more about then keep an eye out for further (imperfect) blogs and vlogs over the coming month or feel free to get in touch with one of our psychologists at Prosper Health Collective who would happy to explore this further with you.