I’ve been working with perfectionists in my psychotherapy practice for many years. I also happen to be a recovering perfectionist myself. I’ve narrowed down the most common signs of perfectionism to these nine traits.
Signs you are a perfectionist:
1. High expectations for yourself
Perfectionists need to succeed, win, and be the best all the time. You are chasing an A+ or salesman of the year award. Anything less is unacceptable.
You obsess over mistakes and criticize yourself for every little misstep. Comparison is your middle name. Social media has become a minefield of comparisons. Everything is a constant reminder that you’re not measuring up.
3. Need to please others
You have a strong need for others to like you and be pleased with your work. You believe others will judge you and/or not like you if you aren’t perfect. You may have a chronic feeling that you are disappointing people.
4. Can’t tolerate criticism or negative feedback from others
Criticism is extremely painful for perfectionists. When you’ve defined your self-worth by being perfect and pleasing everyone, it will hurt like hell to have someone tell you that you aren’t measuring up. You may become angry and defensive or end up in a puddle of tears at the first hint that someone is unhappy with you. Perfectionists also tend to take things personally, so you may be interpreting things as criticism when they really aren’t.
Perfectionists are filled with all kinds of fears – failure, abandonment, rejection or not fitting in. These fears fuel your insecurities. Being flawless seems to be the best protection from embarrassment, shame, criticism, and loneliness.
6. Harsh or critical of others who don’t live up to your high standards
Some perfectionists are not only hard on themselves, but also have high expectations for everyone else. This can lead you to be highly critical, impatient, and harsh with others. This can do a number on your personal and professional relationships.
7. Goal driven
Perfectionists can push themselves very hard, setting big goals and often achieving great things. Unfortunately, you may be so focused on the outcome that you miss out on the process.
8. Procrastination and overthinking
Despite being goal driven, and often very successful, perfectionists often suffer from procrastination and overthinking. High expectations and low tolerance for mistakes makes it hard to start and/or finish projects. Perfectionism and fear can paralyze you from trying new things. You easily get caught up in over analyzing things, which contributes to indecision and inaction.
9. All or nothing thinking
You tend to see things as all or nothing: I’m a success or a I’m a failure. I’m worthy or I’m unworthy.
So, how many of these traits do you have? If you have more than three, I hope you’ll stick around and learn how to be Happily Imperfect with me!
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