Are you a Perfectionist?
I see many people who either know that they are perfectionists, or it is clear for me to see that what is driving them, is perfectionism. My burning question is always the same – How do you know when what you are doing is good enough?
How do you know if you are a Perfectionist?
When you have completed something, are you satisfied with what you have done, or do you usually see room for improvement?
Are these phrases familiar to you? I could have done better. It would be better if…. I should have done. It’s not good enough.
Normally people who are perfectionists, when asked about it, quite like the trait, believing that it makes them do things to the best of their ability. That it drives them to be better, to do better. That setting the standards high, helps them to achieve.
Let’s break it down, as my experience working as a psychologist, is that it can have quite the opposite effect.
Let’s take the example of completing a project, any project. It can be something for work, college, building a wall or cooking dinner, just think of a project.
Often, people who want the project to be perfect, will have difficulty standing back from it at each stage, and see that they are doing well, that they are achieving something. We all need a pat on the back to encourage us to continue with the task in hand. Realizing that you are doing well and being able to take pride in what you are doing, helps with motivation. Thinking that what you have done to date is not good enough, may spur you on, but you might miss out on realizing that you are doing well. Perfectionists tend to focus on what needs to be done to make something better, as opposed to seeing that they are already doing well. It can get to the stage that almost nothing that you do is “good enough.”
What goes on with our self talk?
Self talk is how we talk to ourselves inside our head, like a running commentary on all aspects of our lives. When you are completing a project is your self talk encouraging, or are your criticizing yourself? If you discover that how you talk to yourself inside your head is harsh, maybe you think this helps to be the best you can, but ask yourself this. If you were talking to a child or someone you care about, would you recommend that they use this style of self talk? Probably not!
The way we talk to ourselves inside our head has in impact on how we are feeling. If you are striving for perfection, how do you know when you have achieved it, when what you have done is good enough?
You might find that you never feel like things are good enough or near the perfect standards that you have set for yourself. This will make you feel like you are not achieving or are not good enough, when probably you are doing just fine.
Tips for perfectionists
Take a good look at your self talk and ask yourself is it really helping?
If you discovered that you would encourage others differently, try applying this style of encouragement to yourself.
Think of evidence from your life that suggests that most of what you do is good enough already.
If you have difficulty coming up with anything, what is the feedback that you get from friends are family. More often than not the feedback that we get, suggests that we are doing just fine!