“When perfectionism is driving,

shame is riding shotgun

and fear is that annoying backseat driver”.

~Brené Brown

Being a Perfectionist is a personality trait which can cause you to lead a very restricted and unhappy life.  It affects your confidence, your growth, and self-efficacy.  A by-product of perfectionism is procrastination.

Perfectionism should not be confused with wanting to do things well or striving for excellence to achieve success. 

Perfectionism is about setting unrealistically high standards for yourself and often others, being overly critical of mistakes, being quick to find fault, being driven by a fear of failure and paradoxically being paralysed by procrastination.

Traits of a Perfectionist:

  • They are extremely critical of themselves and often others. They hone in on imperfections and mistakes and are much more judgemental. 
  • Accept nothing less than perfect. Almost perfect is seen as failure.
  • They set unrealistic standards and goals.
  • Perfectionists chase the goal, they see nothing else and so don’t enjoy the process of achieving their goal.
  • Are not easy-going and can become stressed or even worse by their fear of unmet expectations or goals.
  • They are afraid of failure because they place so much stock on results.
  • Are highly likely to be procrastinators, because fearing failure as they do, they become stuck and fail to do anything at all.
  • Become extremely defensive when they encounter constructive criticism.
  • They tend to be very self-critical and unhappy which can lead to low self-esteem.

If any of these traits are familiar to you, then look out for next week’s newsletter when I write about strategies for overcoming perfectionism.

In the meantime,

I will leave you with this encounter I had several years ago with a very good friend:

She was forever overly critical about her son and her partner which would cause disappointment and frustration for her and resentment and tension in the whole household.

I asked her one day, whether she had considered the fact that she maybe being unfair. 

We were on the telephone and not in the same room! 

What do you mean, she balled. 

Had she thought, I asked, whether the guys were doing ‘their best’.  

As she had such high standards and expectations, which were pretty impossible for anyone to achieve, had it occurred to her that the guys were actually doing ‘their best’, and if they were, she couldn’t ask for or indeed expect more. 

The fact that their best did not come up to her own high expectations was irrelevant.  She should accept ‘their best’ with grace and gratitude, not criticism. 

Until next time.

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Marie xox