The Perils of Perfectionism

Perfectionism, a learned behavior, although not considered to be a positive trait is one that brings us rewards. These rewards may compensate for a sense of inadequacy, a need for approval, a need to gain control, a need for immediate reward or for feeling depressed.  The reward, however, is short-lived, because in the end, recognition, compliments, approval or any external reward (such as rearranging the furniture or buying a new dress) still won’t be enough.

Many of us have a tendency to look at what needs to be better rather than valuing and appreciating what is already good. Perfectionism therefore turns into procrastination because we can’t get started until we think we can do it perfectly. We justify this by saying we don’t know how, or we need to think about it or we don’t have time…anything to keep us away from being decisive, productive and in the present moment.

In addition to slowing down productivity, perfectionism can also:

  • Affect your health due to the stress that accompanies having to be perfect
  • Destroy the spontaneity that brings excitement to life
  • Stop you from taking a risk that may propel you to the next level
  • Decrease intimacy and put stress on relationships
  • Stop you from making decisions afraid they won’t be perfect and therefore keeping you stuck
  • Make others afraid to be themselves
  • Make you afraid to be yourself
  • Keeps you reaching for the next thing and never being content

Be aware perfectionism is not the real problem. It’s a coping strategy you use to manage your inner unmet needs and one of its causes is low serotonin. Low serotonin may make it difficult to concentrate and can further complicate matters because it often manifests as a lack of confidence, which you may try to compensate for by striving to be perfect. Seeing your doctor and having a blood test can measure your serotonin level.  Not sure what unmet needs are lurking beneath your behavior…no worries, a coach can give you a simple assessment, which after a few minutes of reflection and meaningful conversation could set you on the right path. Feeling negative? Making the decision to take charge of your thoughts; while not easy, with enough practice can be done. This is vitally important because not only do others not like being around a negative person, negativity actually lowers serotonin levels which leads to more negativity, more depression and more perfectionism.

If you can relate to even one of these points, I encourage you take charge of your mind, your behaviors and your attitude soon – no procrastinating. There will never be a more perfect time than now.

~ by transformativethoughts on February 27, 2012.

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