Let’s Talk about Perfectionism..

According to research findings, self-compassion has been identified as a healthy way to develop self-esteem (Neff, 2009). If this is truly a way to build up one’s confidence, than likely perfectionism has the opposite effect.

Many of us strive to excel and are conscientious in our professional and personal lives. This needs to be differentiated from perfectionism, which is the more extreme view and “unhealthy cousin” of conscientiousness. In perfectionism, any mistake is seen as completely unacceptable and leads to self-criticism, a feeling of failure and self-loathing.

Do you see the difference between the healthy desire to excel and the unhealthy desire to be perfect?

In the irrational belief of perfectionism, mistake-free living is both possible and urgently necessary  (Mallinger and DeWyze, 1992). Although perfectionists adopt their intense beliefs as a way to cope with anxiety and to gain control of their life, ultimately their extreme views have the reverse effect. The result is often increased anxiety and decreased self-esteem as we are unable to accomplish our unrealistically high expectations and the impossible reality of “mistake-free” living. The blow to our self-esteem when we are not able to meet our self-imposed, unrealistic expectations is feeling a loss of control that can lead to depressed mood.

We would likely enjoy our daily life more, if we loosen the bonds of perfectionism. We could benefit from replacing our irrational beliefs with more realistic expectations and thoughts of kindness and self- compassion in order to attain increased happiness and self-worth.

             The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect                                                                and beginning the work of becoming yourself.                                                                                                                                                                                         -Anna Quindlen 


~ by ppdsus on July 21, 2011.

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