Perfectionism, it’s something most of us can relate to. We either embody qualities of it or know others who are annoyingly “perfect”. I’d like to smash the idea that perfection is just that by looking at perfection’s dark underbelly and offering a cognitive shift towards aspirations of excellence instead.
In a recent workshop I gave on perfectionism, I asked participants to check in with their perfectionistic tendencies by completing the following questionnaire. I encourage anyone reading this blog post to look at it.
Notice what you feel or what comes up as you read through these questions. You may even want to jot down some notes and use them in learning more about yourself.
Are You a Perfectionist?
How many of these statements are true for you?
1. I have trouble meeting my own standards and/or I have been told that my standards are too high.
2. I make a lot of “should” statements (“I should never make mistakes”, “I should always be able to predict problems before they occur.”)
3. I believe that if I’m perfect for my partner, he or she will never reject me.
4. No matter how hard I try, I feel it’s not good enough for my family or mate.
5. If I don’t complete all my work by the deadline others will think I’m a slacker.
6. I procrastinate.
7. My standards get in the way … they make it difficult for me to meet deadlines, finish a task, trust others, or do anything spontaneously.
8. I have trouble saying no to my family because I don’t want to let them down
9. I get frustrated when I find a mistake in someone else’s work.
10. I worry about what others think of me.
11. I have difficulty completing tasks and/or I give up easily.
12. I am overly cautious and thorough in tasks.
13. I engage in excessive checking.
14. I am constantly trying to improve things by re-doing.
15. I agonize over small details (what movie to rent).
16. I make elaborate “to do” lists (when to get up, brush teeth, shower, etc.).
17. I avoid trying new things and risk making mistakes.
18. It’s hard for me to tell anyone about a mistake I made.
19. When I make a mistake it feels like I am worthless.
20. Being average is a terrible thought for me.
21. I’m only proud of my work if it gets my boss’ praise.
22. I have to be in perfect physical shape in order to be considered attractive.
23. I’m afraid that my family will criticize me if I mess up.
24. I expect my partner to live up to my expectations.
25. I often feel frustrated, depressed, anxious, or angry while trying to meet my standards.
If you found that you relate to many of these statements it could be time for you to take a deeper look at what motivates you, and how you think about yourself. This is useful information to bring up with your therapist, a good friend, or family member.
In my next posting I will write more about things you can do to address your perfectionism. And will offer more thoughts on thinking of “excellence” as a more healthy approach. Until then, take care, be well and I look forward to any of your comments or questions. Also, check out my previous post PERFECTIONISM … ARE YOU ALREADY ACHIEVING IT? to read a case study about a perfectionism.