Perfectionism rears its ugly head when you feel you must do everything absolutely perfectly. If you don’t, there’s something wrong with you and your world will fall apart. Part 1, we looked what it means to be a perfectionist in three different ways. We’ll complete our investigation of the characteristics of perfectionists in this article.
Waiting to Do Things at the Last Minute –
Or Maybe Not At All
When you fear you are going to fail, you put off what needs to be done. You procrastinate. You’re so immobilized by anxiety and dread that something will go wrong that you can’t find the motivation to get started on what you need to accomplish. Another form of procrastination is trying to make sure you’ve found the ideal way to approach the project before you begin.
In either case, your perfectionism ends up preventing you from attaining the success that you so deeply crave. You may figure that it’s best to put off projects as long as possible or maybe not even do them at all so that you don't have to meet others’ disapproval.
To find out if you procrastinate because you're a perfectionist, ask yourself these questions:
• Do you usually procrastinate and get work done poorly because of it?
• Have you not done something important because you were afraid you couldn’t do it right or couldn’t do it well enough?
• What negative things have happened to you because you procrastinated or because you didn’t do something you should have that you were anxious about?
Being Defensive if Others Criticize You
Living with perfectionism daily causes you to have low self-confidence and feel inadequate. These feelings drive you to prove that you're competent. As a result, criticism feels like a personal attack as evidence of your deepest fear: not being good enough. You feel outrage and disgust with yourself, and because your self-esteem is so low, you try your best to defend yourself and even turn the disapproval around so that you criticize the other person.
Ask these following questions to determine how difficult it is for you to accept criticism:
• Does your work make you feel like you're not good enough?
• Do you feel a need to prove yourself to be seen as competent?
• Do you feel personally attacked when someone criticizes something you've done?
Handling Relationships Poorly
Feeling scared of people pointing out your mistakes can lead you to distance yourself from people and becoming lonely. You have a hard time opening up to people, and you feel that you have to stay strong and stay in control of your emotions all the time.
As a result, people feel alienated from you. You may even try to dictate to people how to act in order to have a good relationship with you and cut them off if they don’t. It’s easier that way because you don’t have to spend your time on relationships. Accomplishing your tasks is much more important
Just as you’re highly sensitive about others being critical of you, you often readily criticize people when you feel they’re not doing the best they can. You feel that if you ease up on others, you may start easing up on yourself, both of which are totally unacceptable.
Remember, relationships are important. Positive interactions with people can help you to be healthy both physically and emotionally. Answer these questions to see how well you connect to people.
• Do you commonly feel alone and that no one wants to be with you?
• Do you find it hard to open up to people even if they're close to you?
• Do you try to control what others do so that they do what you think is best?
Perfectionism can hurt you in many ways. If you discover that you have perfectionist tendencies, don’t despair. There is a way out! In future articles, I’ll teach you how to change your thoughts, habits and behaviors so you can be a healthy high achiever instead.
Writing in a notebook, keep track of all the perfectionist tendencies, thoughts, and behaviors you have throughout the week. I’ll be describing these in Parts 1 and 2. Record what you feel each time you don’t do something well enough or see yourself as not being good enough. At the end of the week, review your list and notice which tendencies, thoughts, and actions were the most frequent and write about how you and those around you are hurt by those things.
There are many common ways that perfectionists sabotage themselves and those close to them. This article and Part 1 explain what these are and how to identify them within yourself.
Vivian Harte is the co-author of Self-Esteem for Dummies in the Dummies series. She has helped over 12,000 people learn and use assertiveness skills during the last 14 years. She teaches online classes on assertiveness, self-confidence, and teamwork. She has a Bachelors degree in Sociology and a Masters degree in Public Administration. She taught college classes for many years in Tucson, Arizona. She has two grown children who are both successful. She lives in Tucson with her husband, three dogs and two cats.
She offers kits with articles, guided visualizations, and songs as well as online courses, group coaching and 1-on-1 coaching, and you can find out more about these at her website, self-esteem-for-me.com. Discover how to increase your confidence at work by downloading her free kit Self-Confidence in the Workplace.