Coping with Perfectionism

|

I know that my desires to do my best for the Lord can caused me to be quite stressed up at times, unknowingly, which can affect my health. But  I don't think I am a perfectionist as I don't believe there is perfection in this life here. I do recognize that my desires to do my very best for the Lord sometimes causes me to try to do as good as I can at great expense and that is why I sometimes acknowledge that I have some perfectionist traits in me. But I don't think I am a perfectionist, just having some of the traits in wanting to do well (not perfect) for the Lord.

I believe in doing my best for the Lord, as He enables me, because I am grateful for His love for me in saving me and I want to give of my life to serve Him. So I seek, by His grace, to do my best to serve Him and His people. That is why you can see me serving our Lord as soon as I am better and sometimes even when I am not well when I perceived someone is in great need. The Lord has saved me and I am responding in love and gratefulness to Him by serving Him and His beloved people. God's people are beloved to Him and so those that He loved, I will seek to love too. I serve our Lord because He loved me and saved me, and I want to give of my life to Him.
I found this very helpful article on What is Perfectionism on Coping.org:Tools for Coping with Life's Stressors

What is perfectionism?

Perfectionism is:


  • the irrational belief that you and/or your environment must be perfect
  • the striving to be the best, to reach the ideal, and to never make a mistake
  • an all pervasive attitude that whatever you attempt in life must be done letter perfect with no deviation, mistakes, slip ups, or inconsistencies
  • a habit developed from youth that keeps you constantly alert to the imperfections, failings, and weakness in yourself and others
  • a level of consciousness that keeps you ever vigilant to any deviations from the norm, the guidelines, or the way things are "supposed to be''
  • the underlying motive present in the fear of failure and fear of rejection, i.e., if I am not perfect I will fail and/or I will be rejected by others
  • a reason why you may be fearful of success, i.e., if I achieve my goal, will I be able to continue, maintain that level of achievement
  • a rigid, moralistic outlook that does not allow for humanism or imperfection
  • an inhibiting factor that keeps you from making a commitment to change habitual, unproductive behavior out of fear of not making the change "good enough''
  • the belief that no matter what you attempt it is never "good enough'' to meet your own or others' expectations

What irrational beliefs contribute to perfectionism?

  • Everything in life must be done to your level of perfection, which is often higher than anyone else's.
  • It is unacceptable to make a mistake.
  • You must always reach the ideal no matter what.
  • If those in authority say this is the way it is supposed to be, then that is the way it is supposed to be.
  • You are a loser if you cannot be perfect.
  • It is what you achieve rather than who you are that is important.
  • I have no value in life unless I am successful.
  • There is no sense in trying to do something unless I can do it perfectly, e.g., "I don't attempt things I can't do well.''
  • If I have a failure or experience a set back in my efforts to change then I should give up.
  • The ideal is what is real; unless I reach the ideal I am a failure.
  • There are so many roadblocks and pitfalls to keep me from succeeding. It is better just to give up and forget my goal.
  • Unless I am "Number One'' there is no sense in trying. Everyone knows what "Number Two'' is. To win is the only acceptable goal.
  • If you screw up in your efforts to achieve a goal, just give up. It must be too hard to achieve.
  • You must always strive to reach the ideal in everything you do because it is in the achievement of the ideal that you give meaning to your life.
  • Don't ever let anyone know what goal you're working on. That way they won't consider you a failure if you don't reach it.
  • If you can't do it right the first time, why try to do it at all?
  • There is only one way to reach a goal: the right way.
  • It takes too much effort and energy to reach a goal. I save myself the aggravation and discouragement by not setting goals for myself.
  • I'll never be able to change and grow the way I want to, so why try.
  • I am a human being prone to error, frailty and imperfections; therefore, I won't be able to accomplish things in a perfect or ideal way. I'll just give up on achieving any of my goals or desires.
What are some negative consequences of perfectionism?

Examples of the negative consequences of perfectionism include:

Low self-esteem. Because a perfectionist never feels "good enough'' about personal performance, feelings of being a "failure'' or a "loser'' with a lessening of self-confidence and self-esteem may result.

Guilt. Because a perfectionist never feels good about the way responsibility has been handled in life (by himself or others) a sense of shame, self recrimination, and guilt may result.

Pessimism. Since a perfectionist is convinced that it will be extremely difficult to achieve an "ideal goal,'' he can easily become discouraged, fatalistic, disheartened, and pessimistic about future efforts to reach a goal.

Depression. Needing always to be "perfect,'' yet recognizing that it is impossible to achieve such a goal, a perfectionist runs the risk of feeling down, blue, and depressed.

Rigidity. Needing to have everything in one's life perfect or "just so'' can lead a perfectionistic to an extreme case of being inflexible, non-spontaneous, and rigid.

Obsessiveness. Being in need of an excessive amount of order, pattern, or structure in life can lead a perfectionistic person to become nit-picky, finicky, or obsessive in an effort to maintain a certain order.

Compulsive behavior. Over-indulgence or the compulsive use of alcohol, drugs, gambling, food, shopping, sex, smoking, risk-taking, or novelty, is often used to medicate a perfectionist who feels like a failure or loser for never being able to be "good enough'' in life.

Lack of motivation. Believing that the goal of "change'' will never be able to be ideally or perfectly achieved can often give a perfectionist a lack of motivation to attempt change in the first place, or to persevere if change has already begun.

Immobilization. Because a perfectionist is often burdened with an extreme fear of failure, the person can become immobilized. With no energy, effort or creative juices applied to rectify, improve, or change the problem behavior in the person's life, he becomes stagnant.

Lack of belief in self. Knowing that one will never be able to achieve an idyllic goal can lead a perfectionist to lose the belief that he will ever be able to improve his life significantly.

What rational behaviors are needed to overcome perfectionistic tendencies?

To overcome perfectionism one needs to:

  • accept self as a human being
  • forgive self for mistakes or failings
  • put self back on the wagon immediately after falling off
  • accept that the ``ideal'' is only a guideline or goal to be worked toward, not to be achieved 100%
  • set realistic and flexible time frames for the achievement of a goal
  • develop a sense of patience and to reduce the need to "get it done yesterday''
  • be easier on oneself; setting unrealistic or unreasonable goals or deadlines sets you up for failure
  • recognize that the human condition is one of failings, weakness, deviations, imperfections, and mistakes; it is acceptable to be human
  • recognize that one's backsliding does not mean the end of the world; it is OK to pick oneself up and start all over again
  • develop an ability to use "thought stopping'' techniques whenever you find yourself mentally scolding yourself for not being "good enough''
  • visualize reality as it will be for a "human'' rather than for a "super human''
  • learn to accept yourself the way you are; let go of the ideas of how you "should be''
  • enjoy success and achievement with a healthy self-pride, and eliminate the need for self deprecation or false humility
  • learn to enjoy success without the need to second guess your ability to sustain the achievement
  • reward yourself for your progress, to reinforce your efforts to change even when progress is slight or doesn't meet up to your idealistic expectations
  • love yourself; to believe that you deserve good things
  • to eliminate unrealistic expectations and the idea that you are infallible
  • visualize yourself as "winning'' even when it takes more energy, and more perseverance, than what you had planned
  • let go of rigid, moralistic judgments of your performance and to develop an open, compassionate understanding for the hard times, obstacles, and temptations
  • be flexible in setting goals and be willing to reassess your plan from time to time to keep things realistic
  • be open to the idea that you will be successful in your efforts to change, even if you are not "first,'' "the best,'' "the model,'' "the star pupil,'' "the exemplar,'' "the finest''
  • realize that the important thing is to be going in a positive direction

How can a social support system help in overcoming perfectionism?

Social support systems can help you overcome perfectionism if you:

  • select realistic people who are not perfectionistic in their own life
  • encourage your support system members to not be rigid or moralistic in their attempts to keep you on an honest course
  • have support people who role model forgiving and forgetting when mistakes, failures, offenses, or backsliding occur
  • have given them permission to call you on being "too hard,'' "too brutal,'' "too rigid,'' "too unrealistic,'' or "too idealistic'' in your expectations
  • have people who will give positive reinforcement for any positive change, no matter how small or slight it is
  • select trustworthy people who are open, honest, and have a sincere interest in your personal growth

Steps to overcome perfectionism

Step 1: In your journal, answer the following questions:

a. What characteristics of perfectionism are true for me? How do these perfectionistic traits impede my efforts to change my problematic behavior?

b. What irrational beliefs of perfectionists do I ascribe to? How do these beliefs influence my desire to change? How do these beliefs contribute to a failure script in my efforts to change? What rational alternatives can I adopt to reduce the negative impact of perfectionism in my life?

c. What are the negative consequences of perfectionism in my life? What am I doing to address these negative issues in my life? How do these negative issues affect my past and current efforts to change my problematical behavior?

d. What new rational behavior do I need to develop in order to overcome the negative impact of perfectionism? How will these new behavior traits help me to fully achieve change in my life?

e. How can my social support system help me in overcoming my perfectionistic attitude? What contributes to perfectionism in my support system? What changes in my support system would reduce its perfectionistic character?

f. How does dealing with my perfectionism help me in my efforts to change? How well does perfectionism explain why past attempts to change have failed?

Step 2: In your journal, identify a problematic behavioral pattern you want to change; then list the characteristic negative behavior traits of the pattern. For each of the negative characteristics list positive alternative behavior traits. For each of the new alternative behavior list your likelihood of achieving them 100% of the time. How many new behavior traits could you achieve 100% of the time?

Step 3: Once you have recognized that no change can be achieved 100% of the time, continue changing your problematic behavior patterns. If you continue to be hindered by perfectionism, return to Step 1 and begin again.

(Coping.org is a Public Service of James J. Messina, Ph.D. & Constance M. Messina, Ph.D., Email: jjmess@tampabay.rr.com ©1999-2007 James J. Messina, Ph.D. & Constance Messina, Ph.D. Note: Original materials on this site may be reproduced for your personal, educational, or noncommercial use as long as you credit the authors and website.)


How about you? Do you also have some perfectionism in your character traits? Or are you the more easy going type? How do you cope? What are the advantages or disadvantages you have experienced due to it?

I hope you will find this article useful to you too if you struggle to cope with perfectionism :-)

Thanks for stopping by. Do leave a comment and share your thoughts with me, if any, as I really love to hear from you :)

Thank you. Take care. Have a great weekends!

5 Kind thoughts:

BPD in OKC said...

I used to be a complete perfectionist. Everything I did had to be perfect. But then I plummeted into deep depression, and when I'm depressed I don't have the motivation to be a perfectionist. I really don't care about anything when I'm depressed.

Pocket said...

You're speaking my language!

From an acorn said...

I still struggle with perfectionism at times. I usually know it is lurking when I'm annoyed because something or more importantly someone, is not behaving or living their life as I think they 'should'. As if anyone should! I can usually catch myself doing it which is often the hardest part isn't it. Great post Nancie - thanks.

marja said...

I'm often a perfectionist when it comes to myself. When I do something wrong I get very angry at myself and label myself stupid. This is especially true when I have bipolar moments and dive in without thinking things through. This can trigger depression.

Nancie said...

Thanks all for stopping by. Seems like we all struggle with some aspect of perfectionism. And it can trigger off our depression.

Hmm... it's a great challenge for me to identify it when it affects me. I hope to slowly learn to recognize it and to rectify my thoughts and actions by and by.

Hope all of you are coping better with it.

Take care!

 

©2009 More than Conquerors | Template Blue by TNB