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Are You a Perfectionist?

Perfectionism is not considered a mental illness, but rather a personality trait that can be harmful when taken to extremes.

Are you a perfectionist? The definition of a perfectionist is a person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection. But what does that really mean? How do you know if you are a perfectionist or just someone who is highly motivated to do their best?

Many perceive a perfectionist as being the straight A student of the class or the overachieving co-worker. To an outsider looking in, it may appear that a perfectionist is simply someone who is "striving for greatness" or "detail oriented". After all, isn't striving for perfection a good thing?

The problem with perfectionism is that perfectionists actually tend to achieve less and stress more than just a regular high achiever. Because they are always striving for perfection, anything less is a perceived failure, leading to stress, anxiety, and depression.

Here are some of the most common traits of a perfectionist:

  • All-or-nothing thinking - Either do everything well, or don’t do it at all. There is no in between.
  • There is a specific manner in which things should be done - They often do not like to deviate from the way they typically do things.
  • Result focused - A perfectionist sees the end goal and nothing else.
  • Highly critical - Whenever something goes wrong, they are very hard on themselves and others.
  • Fear driven - They tend to be pushed toward their goal by fear of failing.
  • Unattainable goals - Unrealistic goals are set that are often out of reach or unattainable.
  • Procrastination - Constantly waiting for the “right” moment to work on goals. (This could be due to the fact the goal is unrealistic).
  • Depression - Perfectionists tend to beat themselves up and wallow in negative feelings when their high expectations go unmet.
Noticing the signs is the first step towards making a positive change in your life. Not only will you feel more at ease, but others around you will as well. And try to remember, "almost perfect" is still a job very well done.

If you suspect that perfectionism is interfering with your well-being, speak to a therapist or your health care physician.

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