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Are you a perfectionist?

If you feel that nothing is ever completed to your exacting standards then consider these ways of overcoming the pitfalls of perfectionism.

There are many advantages to being a perfectionist. Striving for the best in whatever you undertake means that you work hard and take pride in what you do – you want everything to be ‘just perfect’. But sometimes perfectionists feel that nothing is ever good enough and this self-criticism can lead to frustration and unhappiness.

Dr Mark Winwood, Director of Psychological Services for AXA PPP healthcare takes us through ways of coping with and overcoming perfectionism.

Does the fear of failing stop you?

The fear of failure for many perfectionists can stop them from taking the risk of starting in the first place. This fear can affect every aspect of their lives from not applying for a job to not wanting to get involved in a new relationship. As a perfectionist may feel the outcome is not in their control so they would rather not take the risk. They may plan what the outcome should be but then procrastinate and convince themselves that it will be unachievable and so may not even start.

Don’t lose perspective

It is important to realise your own strengths and not to measure yourself by others. Don’t become distracted or jealous of what you perceive to be the success of other people. We all have our own strengths whether they are big or small and sometimes the smaller strengths are those things that really matter – such as being a good listener or the ability to put someone else at ease.

Perhaps ask a friend to help you make a list of your strengths – you may be surprised at how long it is!

Find the positives

Take a step back and focus on the positive things you have achieved and put any little failures behind you. Learn to acknowledge your successes and take comfort from them.

It doesn’t matter if you make a mistake

Don’t be discouraged if one part of your life isn’t going to plan, set-backs and mistakes are all part of the learning process. Failures can even work to our advantage as they can be built upon for future success.

As Albert Einstein said, if you have never made a mistake before then you haven’t done anything new.

How to tell if you’re a perfectionist

Most common perfectionist traits are:

  • having a real fear of getting something wrong
  • avoiding or procrastinating over starting a task
  • regarding set-backs as failures
  • dwelling on criticism
  • struggling to delegate and feeling ‘if you want something done right then do it yourself’

Strive to be the best that you can be but not necessarily perfect!

“Free reigning perfectionism may result in obsession that can be harmful and possibly even lead to anxiety, stress and depression,” says Dr Winwood. “So try to accept the best rather than the perfect solution and you won’t go too far wrong!”

Find out more about making time for yourself

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