Look at the Characteristics of the Perfectionist and find out. We see this in clients that come to our office especially with those in full time vocational ministry. Seems to be a “breeding” ground for it. Those who need approval are easily drawn into it. So many demands and expectations, if we’re not confident in who we are and know what our purpose is with a plan, BTW!!!,we can become victim to the “P” word……
Perfectionism is the need to always be first or best, to always achieve and never make mistakes. It is common in our culture. Women, in particular, are susceptible to this problem. They have traditionally been taught the role of service to others and are highly vulnerable to the kind of perfectionist thinking that says they should always be helpful and gracious. Traditionally, women have assumed the homemaker role and worked to have the best-behaved children, the whitest laundry and the cleanest house on the block. Today's woman has more options, but despite the great strides that have been made in this arena, a woman's perception of herself is colored by what she learned as a child and by how society views her.
Men, too, are burdened by antiquated and limited notions of what a man should be. Their self worth is often based on a successful career and the ability to provide financially for their families. They may believe they must be the perfect husband and father to be worthwhile.
Perhaps you are thinking, "So what if I am a perfectionist? I thought it was one of my strengths." While it is true that perfectionism can yield some positive results in the short-run, in the long-run it is self-defeating.
A perfectionist is likely to be characterized by several of the following:
- An insatiable need for achievement;
- A need to be indispensable;
- No room allowed for mistakes in self or others;
- Unrealistic expectations of self and others;
- Impossible goals set for self and others;
- Need for approval from everyone;
- Concentration on failures;
- Extreme competitiveness;
- Fear of taking risks;
- Procrastination, put it off until you can “do it right” !
- Difficulty accepting criticism.
These kinds of thinking and these behaviors cause a great deal of stress. To reduce the stress caused by perfectionism, you must learn to change your thinking patterns. Accept the truth that your mistakes do not devalue you. Recognize that mistakes can be a way to learn. Examine your thinking patterns to discover which thoughts are irrational and unnecessarily upsetting. For example, it is both irrational and upsetting to tell yourself that you must be perfect to be accepted by others.
- Identify the event or situation which causes stress. Be careful to include only facts.
- Listen to your thoughts (self-talk) about the situation, and change them if they are unnecessarily upsetting you.
- Identify the feelings you have about the situation. Do you feel angry, anxious, fearful, etc.?
- Challenge your irrational, unrealistic or untruthful thoughts.
- Learn to problem solve. Ask yourself if there is anything that can be done about the situation. List your options and choose the constructive actions that seem most workable.
Knowing that we are engaging in self-defeating behaviors and actually changing those behaviors are two different things. Habits take time to form and it takes time and practice to change them. Research has revealed that it takes 21 continuous days of practicing a new behavior to break a habit. So don't become discouraged. In less than a month you can make significant progress toward changing your thinking patterns and reducing the stress in your life.