The dark side of perfectionism

If you’re too much of a perfectionist, you probably feel dissatisfied with your life. It is normal that having high demands on everything and constantly being aware of your mistakes is something that generates a lot of discomfort, exhaustion and stress.

Colloquially, it is understood that a perfectionist person is someone who is never satisfied with what he does, so he performs the activities with great care respecting the smallest detail.

In this article we will talk about perfectionism, its characteristics and how to carry it in a balanced and healthy way.

    What is perfectionism?

    Taken to the extreme, perfectionism can be defined as the tendency to set your goals too high, pursue them rigorously without questioning them and valuing itself according to the achievement of these objectives. Therefore, when the expected is not achieved, a perfectionist person feels such dissatisfaction that it can cause, in very limited cases, depression and a lot of anxiety.

    Among the characteristics of perfectionism, it stands out to seek excellence and to be willing to surpass oneself which can be considered as positive values ​​that can help us in the different areas of our life in their right measure.

    In fact, in our society, the best results of what we do are generally rewarded in a very positive way, it is even very well seen and highly appreciated when a person is very hardworking and always gives the best results. Therefore, We live in a very competitive environmentforcing us to constantly give everything and more to achieve the goals we aspire to.

    However, when we push them to the extreme, these characteristics become our worst enemies: they make us unhappy and become a great source of fear, dissatisfaction and insecurity which, paradoxically, increase the probability of making mistakes.

      Characteristics of a perfectionist

      It is very likely that someone is a perfectionist behave in a manner consistent with some of the following characteristics:

      • High demands on herself: as she is not prepared to make the slightest mistake, she will demand of herself to do everything by taking into account the smallest detail, by doing everything possible to avoid any failure.
      • Requirement for others: it can also require others to meet certain subjective standards in any field: both social and academic.
      • Polarized Thinking: Often the evaluations they make of their actions are based on “all or nothing”, being considered a failure when they fail to achieve a goal satisfactorily.
      • The opinion of others is very important: they are likely to be afraid of not achieving what others expect of them, afraid of feeling rejected.
      • Insecurity of themselves: their self-worth is determined by the achievement or non-achievement of their goals.

        Frustration tolerance

        In addition, another characteristic that has a decisive influence is frustration tolerance. When this tolerance is low, a perfectionist you will be constantly alert to any signal that may anticipate an errorbecoming very self-critical and demanding.

        So when you have to write a college dissertation, for example, you’re more likely to think thousands of times over which words to use, read the written sentences every two or three, expand the written information unnecessarily, and ask someone ‘a. you rely on your opinion on what you have written, always to make sure that everything is “perfect” and thus avoid possible errors.

        However, when frustration tolerance is balanced, it would imply to some extent accept that not everything we do will be 100% perfectthat we will be satisfied with the results obtained, recognizing that we have achieved something that took a lot of effort and that shows us that we are going in the right direction.

        What can we do?

        Here are some tips to keep in mind.

        1. Improve our frustration tolerance

        The key would be in to balance our frustration tolerancebecause we would be ready to expose ourselves to possible errors that we could make without that meaning that we are worth nothing and recognize our efforts.

        2. Set achievable goals

        We must value whether our skills are sufficient to achieve our objectives and, if not, set goals that we know we can satisfactorily achieve.

        3. Don’t fall into the trap of your thoughts

        Take your thoughts as they are thoughts that come and gowithout neglecting what really matters to you: your precious addresses.

        4. Learn to appreciate when something is good enough

        Our opinions about something will always be subjective, as well as those of others. Therefore, our standards are also subjective and we can change them.

        In short, it’s about learning to tolerate a certain degree of frustration, accepting that you’re going to make mistakes and that doesn’t mean it’s invalid work. Eventually, we can move on and realize that our efforts are worth it.

        Sometimes it can be difficult to get out of the loop of perfectionism without help, that’s why we recommend the specialized psychologists of the PsychoAlmería center because they have experience in this type of therapy. They serve both in person and online.

        Author: Franco Castellá Palet, psychologist at PsicoAlmería.

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