Perfectionists see themselves as ambitious people. But too often, they cross the line driven by anxiety or a lack of self-esteem. How do you know if your search for perfection has gone too far? Here are 10 signs that indicate you’ve lost control.
What is perfection?
Although perfection looks attractive, most people know that perfection is fantasy. There is no such thing as perfect marriage, work, or children. It is easy to interpret perfectionism as a positive quality as if it were a badge of honor for those who seek it. But studies show that perfectionists are at higher risk for the following outcomes:
- Eating disorders
- Anxiety disorders
When is the time to say enough is enough?
1 – Lack of creativity
Creativity it can be tricky. It is full of trial and error. When you are a perfectionist, there is no room for clutter or open projects. Everything must be neat and clean. If you pursue something that seems creative, you will find yourself suffocated by your need to finish it. In fact, the need to finish the creative project becomes more important to you than the inspiration behind the creativity. Some have said that perfectionism is the enemy of creativity. You know your quest for perfection has gone too far when you lack creative thoughts and inspiration for projects at home, work, or school. You’ve bought into the lie that it’s not worth pursuing if it’s not done perfectly or isn’t successful by your own standards.
2 – I can’t accept criticism
Nobody likes criticism, but in general, you can accept it when you know it will help you improve at what you are doing. But if you seek perfection, you will see criticism as destructive. It will be hard for you to hear that you made a mistake because, even if you feel like a failure, you don’t want anyone to criticize you. If someone points out an error to you, you will feel that you have a defect. How not to be perfect? It is too disappointing to consider, so you refuse to accept the advice or criticism of others because it is too painful to accept.
3 – Blame yourself for things
Perfectionists tend to have distorted thoughts about themselves. If you are a perfectionist, you will blame yourself for everything. Any mistakes are exaggerated, causing you to put yourself down with words like “loser” or “stupid.” You will be more aware of your flaws than your good qualities, and you will assume that everyone sees your flaws. You live with guilt because you feel that you have let yourself and others down. This often manifests itself in parenting. You feel responsible if your child is doing poorly in school. If you were a better parent, your child would have done better.
4 – Very critical of others
If you are in pursuit of perfection, you feel like you know what perfection is like and when others don’t perform as you think they should, you will get angry. You will constantly suggest ways for others to improve themselves. You will never be happy just accepting others, but feel responsible for pointing out their weaknesses because you assume they want to be perfect like you. This places a burden on your friends and family, often pushing them away because they feel unacceptable to you.
The sad thing is that you may have experienced this lack of acceptance as a child and now you continue to perpetuate it with your children. Unless you see how dangerous perfectionism is, it can destroy your relationships.
5 – Unrealistic goals
In his quest for perfection, he has an all or nothing approach in his life. If you can’t do something perfectly, I feel like a total failure. There is no room for error in your searches because you have a distorted sense of what is realistic. You may have been successful in one area, but you have not reached the level of success you want.
Second place is never good enough for you. In fact, second place is basically losing your mind. Many artists who struggle with perfection feel that way. They create an amazing song, but even though it’s wildly popular, it won’t be that perfect for them.
6 – Procrastines
Another characteristic of overboard perfectionism is the crippling fear of failure. Because of this, it will stop doing things. If you don’t do the project, it can’t fail. Others may think that you are lazy or that you don’t care, but the real problem is that you worry too much.
Your reputation and self-esteem are so tied to your perfect performance that you can’t do anything without worrying about it being a disaster. You live with the stress of endless unfinished projects. And if this leads to you losing your job or failing school, you will feel justified in not trying as it failed, anyway.
Reality becomes so twisted for the perfectionist that he does not know what is true and what is a lie. Sometimes perfection leads you to be extremely detailed so that you can’t get started on something. For example, when you start working, everything must be perfect or it may not work. This obsession can lead you not to postpone the project because it is no longer perfect.
Sometimes perfectionists are so focused on achieving their goals. They despise their health or self-care. Have you ever noticed pictures of famous painters who had oversized beards and hair? It looks like they just came out of a hole in daylight because they’ve been busy working on the perfect paint.
It is common for a perfectionist to not sleep or eat for days. Insomnia can be common for you if you are a perfectionist. Perfectionist athletes can injure themselves because they try too hard.
Perfectionists You may also suffer from the following, according to studies:
- Stress-related illnesses
- Heart disease
- Crohn’s disease
- High blood pressure
- Bipolar disorder
8 – You need approval before making a decision.
Perfectionists crave the approval of others. Their need for approval is important because they feel it is an indicator of how they are doing. Approval means acceptance for a perfectionist. If you are in the pursuit of perfection, you can see the opinions of others as extremely important and seek them whenever you can. Perfectionists often use social media to gain approval from others. A lot of “ likes ” on your blog must mean that you are acceptable and valuable.
9 – Give up easily
Like everyone else, perfectionists set goals for themselves. But a perfectionist often gives up before reaching goals. Either they give up quickly or they don’t stop trying until they are almost killed. This all or nothing attitude is common. They feel all the difficulties to take it personally. Failure looms over them and they respond emotionally by simply giving up.
10 – feel unhappy
In the end, most perfectionists are unhappy people. Their internal struggles are many. They beat themselves up, hating themselves for not living up to standards that are so high that no one could meet them. Their expectations of themselves are through the roof, yet they struggle with procrastination.
Perfectionists believe that the goal is to be perfect, but they fear trying to achieve it because they worry about failure. The pain of all the perfectionistic twists causes unhappiness with yourself and with your life.
What Causes Perfectionism and How Can It Be Overcome?
People who struggled with perfection probably saw this attitude reinforced when they were young. They probably received acceptance based on their performance rather than just being themselves. They were expected to be smart, athletic, or beautiful.
Perhaps your parents denied acceptance if you did not achieve these goals. If he didn’t understand the dysfunction of this kind of thinking growing up, he would take on his need to be perfect in his adulthood.
So that brings up this question.
How can you start to free yourself from perfectionism?
1 – List the pros and cons of being a perfectionist
Ask yourself, does being a perfectionist make life harder or easier for you? Do you have relationship problems because of that? Labor problems? Eating disorders or substance abuse?
2 – Try to lower your expectations
If possible, try to lower your expectations about things. Find ways to free yourself from the tyranny of doing things perfectly. Give yourself a little slack, knowing it won’t change overnight.
3 – Stay away from your attitudes
If you find yourself falling into perfectionistic thoughts or behaviors, take a step back and take note. What was it that made you fall back into perfectionism? Keep a journal about these times. Find out your triggers and, if possible, avoid them or at least prepare for this trigger.
4 – Talk about your struggles
Find a trusted pastor, friend, or family member to talk to about your struggle with perfectionism. Ask them for responsibility and help.
5 – Don’t hate criticism
Try to remember that criticism helps you grow and improve. Consider it helpful, not hurtful. It may take a while for you to really begin to believe it, but over time you can learn not to hate it.
Perfectionism is valued in our society, but it is probably because it is mixed with doing a job with excellence. But perfectionists have a dire need for approval and success in order to feel valuable. It is a slippery slope for those who suffer from it. They constantly compare themselves to others and never feel like they can achieve the perfection they want. Of course, perfection is not a possible reality, and once you realize this, it can help you let go.
If you have a hard time being a perfectionist and feel like your life is getting out of control, be sure to find someone to talk to about your problems. Whether you are a counselor or a pastor, they can help you break free from the pursuit of perfection to find true happiness.