Friday, March 18, 2011

Thoughts Of A Perfectionist

Alright, jumping around just a little bit (it keeps you on your toes!), I'm going to go back to perfectionism for today. Sometimes when we get too much information right up front, we don't have time to really think about what we're reading and figure out how it plays out in life. If you haven't read the rest of my posts on perfectionism, here are the links:

Before we go about changing our perfectionistic thinking, we obviously need to learn how to identify when we are having these thoughts. Without awareness, we can't begin to change. I challenge you to think of your "rules" and expectations for yourself and others in multiple areas of your life. Don't choose just one area, like work or family, but try to choose many (chores, work, family, cooking, yard/house maintenance, appearance, relationships, etc...). Perfectionism tends to touch more then one area of life because it can often distort our identity (check out the link above!).

So here are a few examples:

  • I should contact my roommate from college every week (and when I don't, then I'm a bad friend)
  • I must keep my kitchen spotless and not ever stack dishes in the sink
  • I need to get a ___% (100, 99, etc...) on every test to be a good student. Any less then this and I'm a slacker, bad student, or failure.
  • If I can't do the job perfectly, I'm not even going to try, because I don't want to look incompetent
  • This person needs to be nice to me by doing ____, ____, and ____ every day, or I can't believe that they really care.
  • I must check every paper I write 10 times to make sure that I don't have a single spelling or grammatical error. If I miss something, the professor will think I'm stupid and incompetent, and will judge me every time they see me.
  • I need to be a starter in every single sports game for my parent to really love me or care about me.
  • (upon receiving a B on a test) I should have studied more and not spent time with my roommate a few nights ago. If I would have isolated myself so I could study more, I might have gotten a higher score.
  • (upon not being chosen for something you applied for)- I shouldn't have even tried. I never get what I apply for and only feel embarrassed- I'm a failure.
Ok, so like I said, these are just a few examples to get you started. Each person is going to have there own beliefs, depending on personality, environment, and others.

Have you heard others around you make statements similar to these? More importantly, do you ever say these types of statements? What're the results? 


  1. I've definitely said a lot of these to myself--especially when it comes to academics and/or interviewing for internships. Luckily, I'm very good at challenging ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts) and I can usually talk myself back to a more useful perspective!

  2. Sometimes I sweat the small stuff, but you have to realize that in the end, it's JUST small stuff :)

  3. I know I have high expectations in many areas...and I really try to remember that all I can give is my best and that has to be enough.

  4. Perfectionism gets in the way of my completing anything. If I can't completely clean the house perfectly, why bother starting? Why try a new skill if I'm not going to be perfect on the first attempt? Sounds extreme, but I battle those thought patterns every day. My mantra these days... "Half-assed is better than not trying at all?

  5. LOVE LOVE LOVEEEE this post!!!! I can't even express how much we have in common. I used to be so type-A, "must get an A on everything" back in high school and college. Now that I've been in the real-world for almost 3 years, I've been able to relax a little and see that life has soooo much more to it than achievement (ie. grades, doing well at work). Now i find joy in "the little things" and love just spending time sitting outside, listening to nature. Not to say that I don't have my moments where I still feel anxious (there's a history of anxiety in my family, and though I've never been diagnosed, I'm pretty sure I would be/would have been had I ever been tested!)

    Seriously, LOVE this post and am going to go back and read the others in the series!