Perfectionism: For some people, nothing is good enough, is this just that simple? Is there a way out of the vicious circle of perfectionism?
Answers to these, and many other questions, we will try to give in the following lines.
What is perfectionism?
Perfectionism is a person’s unrealistic aspiration to be perfect.
At the core of perfectionism is an irrational, absolutist demand for oneself to be perfect, if not in all, then at least in some important spheres of life. This type of problem is an anxiety problem. People inclined to be perfectionists are chronically burdened with their achievements, their behavior, appearance, etc. They strive for perfection, forcing themselves to be the best and flawless in what they do.
Perfectionism is like a drug. No matter how good a person does in what he does, as much as he receives praise and recognition from others, the perfectionist is never satisfied with himself/herself. It can always be better (and not only it can but must be better, more perfect), thinks a person who is prone to perfectionism.
Perfectionism includes pettiness, obsessive detailing, a pronounced motive for achievement, over-self-criticism (austerity to oneself), a tendency to think “all or nothing”, and extreme anxiety about possible failures.
Perfectionists are not only difficult for themselves but also very difficult for those with whom they need to work. Perfectionists do not trust anyone and doubt others’ competence because they are convinced that only they can do a job accurately and properly. This makes perfectionists more difficult to cope with in teamwork.
In some people cases, this attitude leads to high results, but the price is too high.
There is nothing wrong with pursuing high goals and wanting good results. The problem arises when one uses one’s achievements to value oneself as a human being. Such people set impossible standards for themselves and others, it is difficult for them to relax and enjoy their achievements.
What is the essence of perfectionism?
The background of perfectionism is self-doubt, a negative self-image, shame and a feeling of less value. Perfectionism is merely a failed way in which a person seeks to compensate for the negative self-image. The Perfectionist Starts From An Irrational Idea: I must always be perfect in everything I consider important otherwise I am a less valuable (worthless) person. The problem is that this strategy never produces results (it neither alleviates nor eliminates feelings of personal inadequacy or less value).
No matter how good he/she is in something, a person does not feel more confident about themselves because of their effects. This is quite expected given that the person does not have a bad self-image due to their failures.
People who are prone to perfectionism are rarely willing to give it up because they have some gains from this kind of behavior. Owing to the pursuit of perfection and the pursuit of doing something flawlessly, perfectionists often really do good and this is a reward (which motivates them to continue to behave the same way). Perfectionists mistakenly believe that the anxiety they have about possible failure is necessary to motivate them to achieve and achieve self-proclaimed goals. However, this is not true.
Anxiety is not a good motivator, anxiety takes a lot of energy and impedes the person in performing the desired activities. Often, perfectionists are not aware of how much energy they are unnecessarily spending on planning and self-assessing what they want to do or have already done. Constant pettiness and the pursuit of perfection distract a person from his or her authentic fears and anxieties (negative self-image and lack of self-esteem), which is also a kind of profit that makes perfectionists reluctant to give up their perfectionism.
“I am a perfectionist!” We can often hear people say that with pride. They are oblivious to the fact that this attitude diminishes the quality of their life and deprives themselves of much pleasure and joy in life!
What’s the price?
Constant tension, pessimism, and depression accompanied by shame and guilt are the consequences of discouragement. To gain some sort of certainty, perfectionists often turn to compulsive behaviors, “treat” themselves with alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling, and many studies have shown an association with eating disorders. One of the most common fears, the fear of public appearance, is directly related to perfectionism. Obsessiveness and coercive actions too. Many have a social phobia, are eternally afraid of how others will judge them, afraid that others may not notice how imperfect they are. Perfectionists are lonely people full of frustration and prone to outbursts of anger.
How to overcome perfectionism?
No one is born a perfectionist, perfectionism is taught, and this is good news because it is possible to correct and reduce the burden that pressures you. Overcoming perfectionism requires courage, motivation, and discipline. First, you need to recognize that you are a perfectionist. If you’ve found yourself in this text, it’s time to take the first step to get rid of perfectionism. Make a list of benefits and harms of wanting to be perfect. Ask yourself a few questions before each task:
- Is the outcome worthwhile – is it worth the effort?
- Is there a simpler way, which consumes less time?
- If you set yourself “good enough” instead of “perfect,” you will significantly reduce the pressure.
- Increase awareness of your behavior
Ask yourself questions:
What are the irrational perfectionist thoughts I have?Am I really as bad as I think I am?How do others see me?What are the best ways to accomplish tasks under these circumstances?
For every negative behavior you discover, look for the optimal alternative while respecting the principle of – good instead of perfect.
Set realistic goals (and don’t delay them)
By setting achievable goals, you will gradually realize that imperfect results do not lead to the consequences of which you are afraid.
When the time is up, proceed to the following task:
- Make a list of the things you are currently putting away
- Take two things off the list by doing them immediately after waking up
- Note the unpleasant consequences of delay
- Reward yourself when you complete all the tasks
- Tell yourself a critic if you don’t complete the tasks on time- Ask someone to warn you
Don’t work just on fixing yourself.Work on accepting yourself. Every day, step by step.
Learn to react to criticism
Perfectionists usually see criticism as an attack on themselves and respond defensively. Focus on the objectivity of criticism and observation of yourself. Accept the mistake and accept the right to make it. If anyone is attacking you at all, ask that person to be specific and argue with criticism. Remind yourself and that person that if you stop making mistakes, you stop learning and developing. As soon as you step out of the line of thinking you have to be perfect to prove yourself worthy, you will no longer be defensive and angry when you are not criticized. With each critique, you learn something. Silence the inner critic. Take the paper and draw your inner critic, give it shape and voice, write what it tells you. You can read that text aloud in a strange, funny voice. Thus you will devalue him and he will no longer be in you.
In the text above, when discussing perfectionism, you will notice that we have also mentioned the term procrastination on several occasions.
It is certainly not a coincidence, these two terms are in a closely related relationship, so in the following, we will deal with the concept of procrastination.
What is procrastination?
Procrastination is the postponement of obligations or important tasks, the postponement of something that is not the most comfortable for us at a given moment, and instead of dealing with things that are either less inconvenient or even more fun to do at a given moment.
Almost every one of us has this form of behavior, and it can be reflected in different walks of life. Procrastination can also be classified when we leave the dishwashing for later, when we postpone the day we start preparing for the exam, when we delay going on date from fear of being rejected, when we postpone graduation, starting a diet, exercising, etc. So, each of us has met with procrastination at least once in our lives, and it is normal behavior, however, the problem arises when procrastination becomes chronic and when it impedes us to realize our potentials and leads to difficulties in our careers. These people usually postpone the unpleasant activities for tomorrow, and when tomorrow comes, they do not postpone the task they postpone but postpone it again for tomorrow, and the whole epilogue of the story is usually a complete abandonment of the obligation.
Most of the time we delay performing an activity because we evaluate the activity as annoying, difficult, complicated, or frustrating. Another cause of procrastination is the fact that we have no guarantee that we will truly be successful in the task, which contributes to the fear of failure, or the possibility of lack of accomplishments and rewards. When we postpone an activity, we feel immediate relief, but in the long term, the damage we have done to ourselves is much greater. Usually, procrastination is a common occurrence in people with low frustration tolerance, that is, as defined in REBT psychotherapy, it is a question of people who have a hidden irrational philosophy that everything they do in life must be easy, enjoyable and interesting for them and if not so then it is horrible, awful and unbearable. Even when we delay the implementation of an activity, we experience immediate relief, most often after not doing something, we become angry with ourselves, anxious, or just feeling guilty, we develop a whole range of negative emotions towards ourselves, leading to further delay, and reinforcing our aversion to the activity we initially delayed.
How to overcome procrastination?
Step One – Recognizing procrastination
If we are honest with ourselves, we will know exactly when we are delaying action or obligation, but here are some indicators that may be helpful for recognizing procrastination:
If we happen to be performing tasks that are less important to us and that do not have as much priority during the dayif we have made a to-do list, and first we perform the obligations from the bottom of the list or the least important ones, it is probably a matter of postponing obligations, that is procrastinationMultiple reading of mails without starting a job that is supposed to be in them, or deciding what to do with given mailOne great indication that procrastination is the case is the situation when we sit down at a table and decide to start work on an important task, then suddenly get up, leave the task, and go make ourselves a huge cup of coffee and pretend that it never happened Also, waiting for the “right mood” and “the right time” to accomplish an important task.
Step Two – Understand why we procrastinate
The cause of procrastination may depend on the person or the type of task. It is very important for us to understand why procrastination occurs so that we can determine the best approach to overcome procrastination.
One of the causes of procrastination is the fact that some work is tedious, complicated, frustrating. This is exactly what we stated above, according to the REBT psychotherapy direction, such persons have an irrational philosophy that everything they do must be easy, interesting and enjoyable, and they cannot stand if the activities they do are not like that. If we look at the bigger picture, every work or task is either difficult or boring, but one way of dealing with the inconvenience of your own task is to imagine that it is a short-term inconvenience to achieve greater long-term profits in order to achieve a much more important goal.
Another reason for procrastination is that people are generally pretty disorganized. Unlike disorganized, organized people manage to complete their tasks on time because they have a list of priorities, and determine exactly how important a task is when it needs to be completed, and the time of duration of the task itself. The basic feature of organized people is precisely this ability to break a task into a series of steps that are easier to follow and complete
Also, some people avoid doing the task because they feel overwhelmed by the task, in fact, they feel that they do not have enough capacity to handle the task. Some people fear success almost as much as a failure because success leads them to completely different life dilemmas and difficulties. One may delay the completion of their studies because they are afraid of finally entering the adult world and being unable to find a job.
It often happens that perfectionists are procrastinators because their irrational beliefs are similar to this one:
“I do not have the skills or resources to do perfectly at this point what is expected of me, so it is best not to do it at all.”
Another potential reason is poorly developed decision-making skills. If so, a person cannot decide which task he or she gives a priority to, so he/she remains stuck in the job.
Third step – the adoption of anti-procrastination strategies
Procrastination is a habit and a form of behavior, as every habit has been built up over a long period of time, so we should not expect to get rid of procrastination overnight. The recommendation is certainly to use as many different strategies, patterns and methods as possible to break down conventional behaviors. One way to motivate yourself to get started is:
Setting your own prizes, for example, you can promise yourself that if you complete your homework on time, you will reward yourself with a choco muffin from your favorite bakery; Ask someone to control you — control helps because it uses commitment, this approach is highly effective and is used in some other self-help groups;Sit down with yourself and identify the long-term negative consequences that might occur if you did not complete the task, and you can also write them down for a clearer picture.
In the case that one of the reasons for procrastination is disorganization, a list of priorities should be drawn up, which will also include unpleasant, or less interesting, activities that still need to be done;Focus on only one task, and then move on to the next;Become a project manager or schedule expert so you know exactly when to begin your tasks. Also close to this item is setting a time limit for completing a task.
If just doing the activity is unpleasant, and for that reason, we delay the task, you can change the angle of view of things, and reconsider your life philosophy, ask yourself “Does everything I do have to be absolutely easy and interesting, and can I really not stand to do something boring and frustrating?So the next time you start putting off a commitment, remember that at some point it certainly seems like the best solution, but in the long term, it brings more harm than good to you. Get to grips with the task right away, and do the hardest part first.
Stop letting yourself procrastinate!