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5 Signs of Perfectionism You Didn’t Know

Updated on August 18, 2020
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There is no harm when things are done perfectly. Many people are proud of being called perfectionists. Right, it can be a compliment, but most of the time it’s a telltale sign they’ve got a serious problem.

When the pursuance of perfection turns into the uncontrolled obsession, that can take its toll on a person’s career and the whole life in general. Evidence suggests that perfectionism goes hand in hand with psychological disorders like depression, anxiety and insomnia. What’s even worse, it is frequently reported to be a potential reason for suicide.

How to find out whether you strive to be a better version of yourself or struggle with toxic perfectionism? Keep reading to learn the hidden signs of this disorder and the strategies aimed to address it.

Sign 1: You often procrastinate

Even though perfectionistic individuals strive to be ahead of the pack and make things right, that doesn’t bother them to procrastinate more often than those short of perfection.

Procrastination is the act of avoidance. People usually tend to postpone daunting tasks because they may be tedious or difficult. But if you always delay work driven by the fear of failure, the chances are you’re a perfectionist.

Such behaviour brings nothing but a lot of troubles. At work, people high in perfectionism fail to meet deadlines and carry through arduous tasks. Thus, moving up the career ladder seems to be an uphill battle.

To weed procrastination out, learn to recognise and deal with your emotions, especially bad ones. Is it guilt or fear of look incompetent that makes you throw in the towel? Take some time to find out the reasons you procrastinate. Once you see the real source of fear, tolerate it. When you accept the idea you don’t need to be perfect, you’ll deal with your setbacks.

Sign 2: You hate delegating

You work like a maniac trying to keep everything under control. Well, that is fine as long as you’re happy. But if you say “I can do that better” every time there is a chance to delegate, here is bad news for you - you’re a perfectionist.

At work or home, trying to be in the driver’s seat all the time can backfire. Unless you want to experience professional burnout, you should stop. Loss of motivation, depressive episodes and low self-esteem are some other consequences brought by the inability to delegate. Why? Because you are likely to fail when juggling with many tasks at the same time.

If the above-mentioned rings true, here is what you can do:

  • Take it easy. Of course, it is a nightmare for every perfectionist to let things go, but this is how you can jump on the right path of becoming a confident, calm person.

  • If delegating tasks is no easy feat for you, keep your eye on the ball but avoid being overbearing. Check how things are going on in the evening or ask for the progress report at the end of the week.

  • When delegating, make sure to tell your employees or colleagues what you want from them and set the deadline. The clear understanding of the assigned task will help them carry through it.

Sign 3: More lists, please!

You can’t imagine your life without lists and calendars. And there is nothing wrong with that. When you organise your day and check off to-dos, you make the most out of your time. The problem is when sticking to the schedule too tightly, you can’t be flexible. Being unable to adapt, you’ll always wind up missing opportunities.

Perfectionists tend to stick to the overly-rigid schedules, and when failing to do that, they get anxious or even panic. Doesn’t sound healthy to you? Here is how to change things up.

No matter how scrupulously you plan your day, it’s pivotal to hold on to spontaneity. Don’t set your to-do list in stone, or that’ll put a damper on your whole day, week, month and life.

If you have a chance to grab some coffee with your colleagues or see your old friend, do that. Never know what will bring you more benefits, one of your to-dos or the spontaneous meeting. And don’t beat yourself up if failing to finish one or two tasks.

Sign 4: The unclean surrounding makes you sick

Keeping your place clean is a normal thing to do. For many people, outer cleanliness equals inner composure. Unless the desire to clean and organise doesn’t keep you from doing what you should do, all is fine. But if you spend too much energy to maintain perfect order, and that often gives rise to anxiety and nervousness, it might be a wake-up call - you are a perfectionist.

You wash your car even being late for an important meeting or a simple gathering with friends - that is a symptom of self-oriented perfectionism. You think that people will judge you should you arrive in a dirty car, but indeed people don’t care. That’s what every perfectionist must keep in mind.

Self-oriented perfectionism undermines your mental health and pisses off those close to you. But here is another type of disorder called other-oriented perfectionism. How to find out whether it’s your problem or not? Your colleague’s desk is messy, and that drives you crazy? Welcome to the club.

People who can’t focus when the surrounding is unclean are called other-oriented perfectionists. They want others to be just as perfect as they are. If not, they get tense and easily annoyed. For this very reason, other-oriented perfectionists correct others’ grammar, driving style, personal beliefs and so on. Does that sound familiar to you? If so, consider the following:

  • There are millions of things out there that aren’t your responsibility, and your colleague’s desk is one of them.

  • Let your actions be consistent with your real priorities. Think twice before abandoning your friends to wash your car or clean flat.

  • Don’t judge people, and let them express themselves as they wish. Even if your friend says that the Earth stands on three elephants, keep your cool.

  • If things are too bad, and you can’t fight the anxiety for weeks on end, let a therapist address your issue.

Sign 5: You can’t afford a mistake

Life is brimming with both failures and achievements, and it’s always easier to try new things when the fear of failure doesn’t paralyse you. Perfectionists are likely to disagree. They hate making mistakes. Blaming themselves for being too slow, stupid or lazy, they fail to forward to success. Sounds like your behavioural pattern? If so, you shoot yourself in the foot.

Every mistake is a perfect breeding ground for new ideas and creativity. If you don’t want to end up losing all your ambitions and throw obstacles in your own career growth, go easy on yourself.

There always be some bumps along the way, and no one is immune to mistakes. Success involves peaks and valleys, so relax and take failures in stride. Think of the benefits brought by collapse: they are self-development, chances to seek new approaches, ideas and concepts.

Final words

Perfectionism is fine as long as it makes you a better version of yourself. Some perfectionistic aspects can catapult you forward to the insane success. Keep them!

And remember that perfectionism can be disruptive, holding you back and making you feel miserable. That is where you should spot the obsessiveness (hope this material will help you out) and give help a chance. Turn to a therapist if need be or follow the above-mentioned advice to bid farewell to the disorder.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 AngelinaGromova

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