9 Signs You Are A Perfectionist & Why You Want To Let Go of “Perfectionism” – Vol. 398, January 26, 2017
Professor Gordon Flett of York University co-authored a study on perfectionism. He found that perfectionists have a higher risk of experiencing suicidal thoughts, while being able to hide them from others. If they do try to commit suicide, they use those perfectionistic ways to plan and carry it out. Given these traits of perfectionists, perhaps you would see the benefit of letting go of your perfectionistic tendencies. Before we got there however, lets find out what perfectionism is all about.
So, what is perfectionism?
Perfectionism is the need to be or to appear perfect. Perfectionist are detailed oriented, highly organized and are only happy with being “the best” at anything that they do.
Professor Flett states that perfectionist tend to “experience helplessness, psychological pain, life stress, overgeneralization, and a form of emotional perfectionism that restricts the willingness to disclose suicidal urges or intentions.”
If you consider yourself a perfectionist, I bet you find yourself “down” on yourself more often then you would like to admit. I bet you also find it very difficult to find people that live up to your standards, disappointment in others being the rule.
I find with my perfectionist clients that resentment is the end result in too many of their relationships, making it hard for them to trust or believe in other people. This brings about feelings of loneliness. However, perfectionist do their best to hide these feelings as well, always wanting to be appreciated for who they pretend to be.
Here are 9 signs of perfectionism according to Professor Flett:
1. You can’t stop thinking about a mistake that you made.
2. You are intensely competitive and can’t stand doing worse then others.
3. You either want to so something “just right” or not at all.
4. You demand perfection from other people.
5. You won’t ask for help, believing that you will be perceived as flawed.
6. You will persist at a task long after other people have quit.
7. You are a fault-finder who must correct other people when they are wrong.
8. You are highly aware of other people’s demands and expectations.
9. You are very self-conscious about making mistakes in front of other people
So, what can you do about this trait, if you are ready to let it go?
First, understand that there isn’t a perfect person on this planet. Yes, there are some people who are better at many things then others, but no one is “perfect.”
Second, think about what it is that you are doing to yourself holding on to this impossible standard. If you are finding yourself resentful and lonely, distrustful and fearful, you have to ask yourself how this is working for you? My guess is that it isn’t working for you at all.
My eating disordered clients were the ones who taught me most about the pain that they live with being perfectionists. These were mostly young women in their mid to late 20’s who felt that their lives were already over, and yet they had barely begun their lives, given the average life span of women being 81 years old (CBS News, 2016).
So, how about you take a different approach to life. How about you start allowing yourself to be what I call “imperfectly perfect?” What I mean by this is for you to allow yourself to excel at those things that you are indeed great at, while allowing yourself to let go of the persona that you must be the best at everything that you try in life.
In terms of being able to trust people, it is important to realize that if you can’t even live up to your own expectations, that it is putting you into a double bind to expect anyone else to be able to live up to those standards. Double binds mean you lose regardless of the outcome.
I would also suggest that you get in touch with that real true aspect of who you are as a person, a real person. Let that person out, because that is the person that is going to be able to relate to other people in a “real” and “transparent” manner. It is only through being true to who you are that you are going to be able to create real friendships, Because, pretending to be someone who you are not, is only going to allow you to find “friends” who don’t even know who you are, and you really can’t consider that person a “true” friend,” can you?
I know from working with my clients that it can be very difficult to just allow yourself to be you. I always have them do the “mirror” exercise, where they look themselves in the mirror and find all their good qualities. I have never had a client who couldn’t find some very pleasant aspects to their faces and bodies, areas that they really liked. This is the beginning of creating self-love and self-respect. This is the beginning of allowing people to appreciate you for you because you are allowing you, to appreciate you for who you really are, and it is a great feeling to allow yourself.
Secondly, when with people be yourself, say your truth, in the same manner that you would want someone to speak to you. Be non-judgmental and compassionate this being where all true relationships occur. This can be very scary for a perfectionist who is used to hiding the “true self,” I know. However, I can tell you that my clients have been able to build much deeper and more loving relationships by being willing to take this step. They are always shocked at how this goes over, because they find that the person with whom they are finally having a “real” conversation is so appreciative of finally getting to know the real person. This is because they always felt a barrier between themselves and the client. And that’s the deal. You may not realize it, but others do in fact feel you defenses by not letting them in to who you really are, because maybe you never really speak your truth. Well, I am inviting you to see how this works for you. Because in the end you will find that you are less alone, more able to get along with others, resentment goes down and appreciation for those who are in your life goes up. What do you have to lose to try it out?
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