Are you the type of person that feels like a failure if your goals for the day or week were not realized? If you are a student do you feel miserable because you expected an A on your test and you actually got a B-? If you are a parent, do you feel like a terrible parent when your children are disobedient, are struggling in school, or get in trouble? Do you think to yourself: “I should be a better parent; if I were a good parent my children wouldn’t behave this way?” Do you expect perfection out of yourself, and when that doesn’t happen, do you believe you have failed? If you do, you may be what psychologists call a “perfectionist.” The problem with being a perfectionist is that no matter what you do and how hard you try, somehow, it’s never good enough in your eyes. You believe you can always do better; thus this belief gets in the way of the enjoyment of your life.
Our environment and our view of what society expects out of us influence our beliefs in a negative way. Perfectionism is an unhelpful belief because when people believe they need to be ‘perfect,’ they set themselves up for failure by setting high goals and expectations that are difficult to complete. Perfectionism can lead to depression when individuals beat themselves up for “failing.” They often base their self worth on what others say and thus, if they fail, they don’t feel good about themselves because they believe others will judge them negatively as well.
If you would like to enjoy your life a little more and would like to decrease this unhelpful belief, there is help for you.
“If you want to test your memory, try to recall what you were worrying about one year ago today.”
E. JOSEPH COSSMAN
You can start by not beating yourself up when you believe you have failed at something. You may want to set realistic goals and say good-bye to “all-or-nothing’ type of thinking. Recent studies indicate that perfectionism actually interferes with success. Those individuals get stuck in a vicious cycle trying to attain perfection, and when they don’t achieve it, they second-guess themselves the next time and become afraid to fail. They often review in their mind “what they should’ve done, what they should not have done, what they could’ve done, etc.” A first step to decrease your perfectionistic attitude is by noticing your thought pattern. Do you have the “all-or-nothing” or the “should’ve” type of thinking? These are thinking errors that can be corrected, but the first step is becoming aware of them.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy will be used to help you notice your thinking errors and core beliefs that are interfering with your progress. ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) will also be implemented. You will learn to watch your thoughts and make room for your internal experiences such as thoughts, feelings, sensations, and urges. You will also learn to connect to the present moment (mindfulness training), recognize the Wiser/Observer Self (the you who wants to live a better life), recognize what really matters in your life, and learn to do what it takes to live a value-focused life!
If you believe you need extra help with overcoming unhealthy perfectionism, we will be happy to answer your questions.