Toxic Perfectionism Part 1

Do you identify as a Perfectionist? One who needs all things to be flawless, requires the same of others, and needs control over their circumstances? Perfectionism takes a toll on you and those around you. In this present moment, that’s alright because you likely navigated to this blog post in hopes of initiating change. So, let’s identify key traits of perfectionism to conduct a brief self-evaluation. 

Key Traits of Toxic Perfectionism:

Being highly critical of yourself and others. 

Perfectionists give themselves no room for error. They expect themselves to be high-performing in all areas, all the time. However, it is impossible to do so, and it is incredibly exhausting to try to maintain “perfectionism.” This level of extreme criticism can be very detrimental to one’s self-image. In addition to pressure on oneself, being highly critical of others strains relationships and can lead to resentment and isolation. 

Habitually seeking out mistakes. 

Perfectionists do not like to feel blindsided. To avoid this, they seek out mistakes in themselves, others, and their circumstances and attempt to “get ahead of the problem” to troubleshoot it. The caveat, though, is that in reality, most things are not “problems” to be solved. For example, if you’ve read over an email 4 plus times, it’s time to send the email! Vice versa, if you receive a text, don’t overanalyze tone or read into meaning that isn’t there. A habit of seeking out mistakes will only rob you of your joy. 

Experiencing a whirlwind downward spiraling when expectations and goals are not met. 

Perfectionists have the tendency to set unrealistic expectations or goals. In the event they are not met, a whirlwind of downward emotions follows. In some cases, depression. Perfectionists can have a stellar to-do list, but often some goals are not feasible in the allotted time. Perceived failure is then met with disappointment and despair. This trait can also negatively affect relationships, whether romantic, familial or in the workplace.

A crippling fear of failure. 

The fear of failure is scary for most people. The fear of failure is crippling for a perfectionist. Perfectionists feel that if their odds of failing outweigh their odds of succeeding, they will either procrastinate a task or not attempt it at all. Procrastinating can worsen anxious feelings surrounding the task, while forgoing it altogether would risks you missing out on a worthwhile opportunity.

Happiness is based on results and achievements. 

It’s incredible to be proud of yourself for an achievement. It becomes problematic when you solely find happiness based on results and achievements. You may not receive the outcomes you hoped for, but that is not a reflection of your identity or worth. The mere fact that you tried, whether you got the results you wished for or not, in and of itself is worth celebrating. Challenge yourself to find joy in the simpler things in life.

If you identify with any of these traits and characteristics, all is not lost. Part 2 of this blog post series discusses how to improve from and overcome perfectionism. If you struggle with perfectionism and how it manifests in your relationships, give me a call at 678-599-3942 or schedule a free consultation online, and we can get started!