Are you the type of person that feels like a failure if your goals for the week were not met? If you are a student do you feel miserable because you expected an A on your test and you actually got a B-? If you are a parent, do you feel like a terrible parent when your children are disobedient, are struggling in school, or get in trouble? Do you think to yourself: “I should be a better parent; if I were a good parent my children wouldn’t behave this way?” Do you expect perfection out of yourself, and if that doesn’t happen, do you believe you have failed? If you do, you may be what psychologists called a “perfectionist.” The problem with being a perfectionist is that no matter what you do and how hard you try, somehow, it’s never good enough in your eyes. You believe you can always do better; thus this erroneous belief gets in the way of enjoying life.
Our environment and our own view of what society expects out of us influence our beliefs that can often be wrong. Perfectionism is an irrational belief because when people believe they need to be ‘perfect,’ they are setting themselves up for failure by setting high goals and expectations that are difficult to complete. Perfectionism can lead to depression when the individual beats himself up for “failing.” He may base his self worth on what others say and thus, if he fails, he doesn’t feel good about himself because he believes others will judge him as well.
If you would like to enjoy life a little more and would like to decrease this irrational belief, there is help for you.
You can start by not beating yourself down when you believe you have failed at something. You may want to set realistic goals and say good-bye to the “all-or-nothing’ type of thinking. Recent studies indicate that perfectionism actually interferes with success. Those individuals get stuck in a vicious cycle trying to attain perfection, and when they don’t achieve it, they second guess themselves the next time and then are afraid to fail. They often review in their mind “what they should’ve done, what they should not have done, what they could’ve done, etc.” A first step to decrease your perfectionistic attitude is by noticing your thought pattern. Do you have the “all-or-nothing” or the should’ve” type of thinking? These are thinking errors that can be corrected but the first step is becoming aware of them.
If you believe you need extra help with overcoming perfectionism, I will be happy to answer your questions.