Perfectionism is defined as a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high performance standards. Perfectionism is accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.
In a positive form, perfectionism can provide the driving force that can lead to great achievement as it includes meticulous attention to detail; commitment and persistence that can help us fulfill to the best of our capabilities and provide the motivation to persevere in the face of discouragement and obstacles.
WHEN DOES PERFECTIONISM BECOME MALADAPTIVE
Anything that reaches an extreme level becomes maladaptive, in a similar manner when perfectionism reaches a high level it can have deleterious effects on our general well-being, performance, and relationships
Self Worth– If a person’s self-worth is solely dependent on one area then it can have negative effects on one’s self-image. For example- A person who judges his/her self-worth on the basis of only academic success, career success or physical appearance would always be dissatisfied with that one aspect as the focus is not towards holistic appraisal of one’s strengths and weaknesses.
All or None Thinking– All or none thinking is a pattern of faulty thinking where a person sets rigid standards and evaluates himself/herself based on that. For example, a high-achieving, perfectionist student might consider himself a failure if he achieves a B in one subject especially when he always used to achieve an A on all the subjects.
Discounting the Positives– When perfectionists meet their standards, they typically evaluate their standards as having been insufficiently demanding and they tend to undervalue their achievements and strengths.
Excessive Self-Criticism– In the case of maladaptive perfectionism, when the individual fails to meet their standards there is a high likelihood of excessive self-criticism which further affects one’s self-image.
Constant Comparison– In maladaptive perfectionism, other’s performance and achievements are taken as the yardstick for measuring one’s achievements.
Procrastination-Perfectionists get stuck on details that don’t matter that much which further leads to late submissions or delay in delivering output
Avoidance of Difficult Task– Perfectionists might avoid situations and tasks when they fear they might not be able to meet their own standards
MAINTAINING HEALTHY LEVELS OF PERFECTIONISM
Objective Self Evaluation– It is very crucial to reduce the extent to which self-evaluation is exclusively based on meeting our own personal standards and also reduce the extent to which self-esteem is based on only one or very few domains of our lives.
Self-Compassion– We need to talk to ourselves like we would talk to a friend. This helps us to practice kindness towards oneself when faced with a setback.
Setting Realistic Goals– It’s important to know one’s capacities and the amount of effort that we can put towards our goals. This helps us in learning how to shift focus and effort towards SMART (Small, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) goals.
Time Management– It is important to shift our attention from the nitty-gritty of a project or task to the big picture as it helps us to allocate our resources, time and energy towards performance driven and goal-oriented behavior
We all face success and failures in our life. It is important for our well-being that we do not let one failure define us. If we shift our perspective then we would be able to attain life lessons from the obstacles and failures that we encounter and they can help us to mold into better versions of ourselves.
We need to remember that to err is human. Our goal should be to strive for excellence rather than Perfection
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Reference- Psychology Today, Wikipedia