Perfectionism

Do you have excessively high standards?

Do you experience extreme distress if you fail to meet these standards?

Do you find satisfaction fleeting even when you achieve goals?

Do you often feel “not good enough”?

Do you feel a bit of a fraud and have imposter syndrome?

Perceived failure over mistakes can leave the person with perfectionism feeling exhausted, worthless or worried. Perfectionism can be linked with depression and anxiety as the individual engages in harsh and critical thinking and rigid self imposed standards.  Learning to manage anxiety regarding expectations and teach self-acceptance and empathy for self can be useful.

There are three types of perfectionism that individuals may struggle with. These are referred to as self-oriented, social oriented and other oriented. Some people may exhibit aspects of all three subtypes.

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Subtypes of Perfectionism

1. Self-Oriented Perfectionism: People with self-oriented perfectionism have excessively high standards regarding performance on tasks. If they make a mistake they can be extremely hyper- critical leading to depression. When working on a task they may also be extremely preoccupied with whether the outcome will meet their standards. This may contribute to difficulties concentrating, anxiety and procrastination. Often, even when a goal is met they typically minimize their accomplishment. For example, after obtaining a perfect score on an exam the perfectionist may diminish their grade. This may be done by labeling the exam as easy or unsophisticated.

2. Socially Oriented Perfectionists: Socially- oriented perfectionists believe others have excessively high standards and expectations of them. They fear others will be excessively critical or punitive if they do not meet their expectations.  The more they accommodate to others and say “yes”, the more others will expect of them to do in the future. They do not set boundaries fearing disapproval and thus are often flooded with more requests.  Value and self worth is often dependent on other people, which they cannot fully control and leaves them wide open to experience depression.

3. Other Oriented Perfectionism: People with other oriented perfectionism have extremely high standards of others. They may be critical or harsh when others do not meet their expectations. Their tendency to feel disappointed in others may lead to interpersonal conflict or aggressive outbursts. Conversely, they may quietly withdraw if they feel disappointed that others do not meet their expectations. The high expectations of others may leave them chronically disappointed and frustrated. They may have difficulty connecting and forming intimate relationships.