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The SheCAN! Network - the downfalls of being a perfectionist

Do You Wish You Were Perfect?

Be careful what you wish for!

By Peggy Sullivan

Do you wish you were perfect? Be careful what you wish for! While it sounds like a good goal to reach for, there are downfalls to being a perfectionist.

Take these hallmarks of a perfectionist belief system as an example:

No matter what you achieve, the feelings of satisfaction are temporary. There is always more to do, be, accomplish.

Things are either black or white- no vaguely defined area of in-between or close enough. Things in your life are either right or wrong, good or bad success or failure

You believe that only by making everything perfect on the outside will you feel peace and serenity on the inside.

When things go wrong or you do not achieve at a certain level, you believe you have failed.

Effort and intention are not enough. Results must be productive and successful. Focus is on product, not process.

You are extremely competitive about almost everything.

You imagine others admire and value you only for your high level of achievement and production.

It seems like being a perfectionist should lead to a happy life, but so often the opposite is true. Rather than the success and serenity the perfectionist pictures, here are just a few of the difficulties that plague the perfectionist.

Trouble in Relationships

It’s very difficult to be in a relationship with a perfectionist. Their expectations and demands are extremely high, and their partners often feel inadequate and pressured. In relationships, perfectionists often feel disappointed, angry and resentful. In friendships, they will always go out of their way to be supportive and gracious, but they also can be competitive, rigid, and very passive-aggressive

Always Anxious and Exhausted

The perfectionist lives with continuous anxiety about what needs to be accomplished. Unfortunately, the perfectionist's response to anxiety is to work harder and accomplish more and more and more. This leaves them exhausted and miserable most of the time and never gets anything done.

Frustration with Dis-order

The perfectionist is usually very intolerant of mess and disorganization. They believe that if they can make their outside environment look a certain way, that means that everything is good and safe on the inside.

Earning Your Specialness

A perfectionist's core internal belief tends to be they are not good enough or special the way they are. They believe their value comes from perfect production, achievement and service in every aspect of their life.

Now that we have discussed the downfalls of being a perfectionist, here are some tips that will help you overcome these damaging habits:

Recognize perfection as a problem

Understand the difference between perfectionism and high standards. Realize that while having healthy high standards and setting realistic goals are good for you, being a perfectionist is not.

Set realistic goals

Goal setting is great for building self-esteem. Replace perfectionistic expectations with healthy and realistic goals.

Look for the positives in yourself and your life

Pay attention to the good things instead of magnifying the negatives. Notice your good qualities, the things you've done well and the good things about your life. Look for the good in others too.

Love yourself in your entirety, including your imperfections

See the bigger picture and know that you are worthy as a whole person. One minor imperfection or flaw does not make you a "bad" or "unworthy" person Get a more balanced perspective of yourself.

Embrace your uniqueness

You might see your uniqueness as flawed, however, your perceived "flaws" can be your greatest asset. Many people who achieved great things did so because they were different.

Stop procrastinating

Don’t wait for the perfect moment, or for something to be perfect to take action, because that will never happen. Take action now, even when something is not just right. You will feel empowered by taking action, getting more done and participating more in life.

Think of mistakes as lessons

Perfectionism can come with a fear of failure, which gets in the way of moving forwards. Allow yourself to make mistakes and give yourself the opportunity to learn and grow.

We look forward to seeing you at one of our events in Buffalo, NY! Please visit our Events page to view our calendar and join us for a night of networking, learning, food, and fun.

The SheCAN! Network -Peggy Sullivan headshot


Peggy Sullivan is the CEO & Founder of SheCAN!. It is her desire to help women step into their power and become the best versions of themselves through professional and personal development, networking opportunities and one-on-one coaching.

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