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Perfectionism


Perfectionism is a personality characteristic where a person strives for flawlessness, and is often accompanied by an overly critical self-concept.

Perfectionism is rooted in anxiety, but that is not to say that everyone who experiences anxiety will also demonstrate perfectionistic tendencies.Most of my clients who present with perfectionism however, report that their perfectionism relates only to themselves and not to others.These clients show an intellectual understanding of perfectionism (and its flaws), but the perfectionism serves as such an efficient protective mechanism (or intermediate belief) from their maladaptive core beliefs that they struggle to let it go.


So if perfectionism is such a pain, why do we do it? To put it simply, perfectionism is a really effective means of self-preservation. In my previous blogs I have talked about core beliefs, and how they are the lens that we see the world (and ourselves) through. If we have a core belief around being a failure or worthless, triggering this will cause us a huge amount of emotional distress. Therefore, we develop these “rules” and strategies to protect ourselves from ever experiencing this emotional distress. So if we use a core belief of being worthless as an example, we might develop a “rule” that we are only valuable when we are performing to a high standard. Therefore, we develop perfectionistic tendencies to serve as the buffer between the rule and the core belief.


For those who aren’t overly perfectionistic, it can be difficult to understand why these people don’t just say no, or like, calm down.What is often misunderstood though, is that perfectionists don’t often enjoy being perfectionists.However the stress caused by overcommitment is preferable to the emotional dumpster-fire caused by triggering the belief that they are worthless. Therefore in order to address perfectionism a person really needs to first address their core beliefs.


If you are interested in discussing any of the points further, we would be more than happy to hear from you. Feel free to send an email to admin@youmatterpsychologists.com.au and we will answer any questions you may have.


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