You may not have a meticulously organized junk drawer or a closet full of clothes organized by color or sleeve length, but perfectionist traits may still be affecting your life—and holding you back. Can you relate to any of these habits?
- You think in all-or-nothing terms. Something is either right or wrong, good or bad, perfect or a disaster. You tend to think in one extreme or the other, rather than seeing the characteristics of people and situations existing along a continuum. For example, you tend to think, “She is mean,” instead of, “She can sometimes be mean.”
- You think, and then act, in extremes. Have you ever acted on a sentiment like this, more than once?: “I had one cookie and screwed up my diet…I might as well eat them all.”
- You can’t trust others to do a task correctly, so you rarely delegate.Others may see you as a micro-manager or control-freak, but you see your actions as just wanting to get the job done right.
- You have demanding standards for yourself and others. You believe in always giving your best and you expect others to do the same. And you are scared to death of looking like a failure.
- You have trouble completing a project because you think there is always something more you can do to make it better. You obsess about sharing your book, project, meal, invitation, business card, website, article, or speech with others. You want to make sure your work is the best it can be before revealing it.
- You use the word “should” a lot. “I should do this,” and “They should do that,” may be common phrases, both out loud and inside your head. You have certain “rules” you believe that you, and others, should follow. And when those rules aren’t followed, you are not pleased.
- Your self-confidence depends on what you accomplish and how others react to you. You strive for excellence and need validation from others to feel good about your accomplishments. What’s more, once you have achieved a goal, you quickly move on to the next one.
- You tend to fixate on something you messed up. You may have done something right, but still focus instead on the one mistake you made.
- You procrastinate, or avoid situations where you think you might not excel. It may seem counterintuitive, but many people who procrastinate or avoid doing something are actually perfectionists: They’re afraid they will fail. Their rationale is, “I might not be able to do it perfectly, so why bother at all?”
By: Elizabeth Lombardo Ph.D.