Are you always in a determined pursuit to make everything correct and perfect? Do you set for yourself excessively high standards, so high to be met only with great difficulty? And do you demand from others the same flawless level of performance? You may be a perfectionist.
Perfectionism can be defined as the propensity to think and believe that anything short of perfect is an abject failure while having concerns over mistakes and subjecting oneself to harsh and critical self-evaluations when the output fails to produce sought-after satisfaction and excellence.
While perfection can be viewed as an innate motivating force of every other human being in the relational environment with conditional acceptance where socio-economic competition is an elementary cause of change, some researchers have been studying the consequences of perfectionistic striving for acceptance and approval.
According to psychopathology researchers Dr Paul Hewitt and Gordon L Flett, Ph.D., a professor of Psychology at York University in Toronto, perfectionistic behaviour is a risk factor for mental health, and it’s linked to depression, stress, social anxiety, frustration, anger, and others.
In their research paper, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1991, Hewitt and Flett argued that perfectionism is a three-layer multidimensional human aspect that can be categorized as either Self-oriented Perfectionism, setting high standards for oneself, Other-Oriented Perfectionism of believing others are perfect than oneself, and Socially Prescribed Perfectionism that means posting perfectionist behaviour upon external influence.
Hewitt notes that perfectionism is only an idealized state of impeccability that is unattainable due to inherent human capabilities, thus always problematic: “I don’t think needing to be perfect is in any way adaptive,” he says.
At work, school or any other settings and spaces that expect a discharge of responsibilities, perfectionists spend too much time on small tasks, hence missing deadlines because of avoidance, overcompensation and distractions.
Researchers have demonstrated that perfectionism has detrimental effects. It has also been associated with sleep disorders, fatigue, headaches and gastrointestinal problems.
If you are a perfectionist, some tips for fighting the urge for perfection include redesigning one’s view of success by untying self-worth from achievements, setting time deadlines instead of task deadlines, practicing self-compassion, and attending counselling sessions.