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What is Perfectionism? Some common traits of Perfectionists

Some common traits of Perfectionists
Perfectionism is the constant need to achieve high standards of excellence in different areas of life. It is a personality trait that has both positive and negative aspects to it. Perfectionism usually occurs when an individual puts pressure on themselves to excel at something and is refusing to accept anything less than that, while this is an advantage when one wants to succeed, too much pressure has its fair share of negative effects.

If we look at this concept from a distance we won’t see much difference between a perfectionist and a high achiever, but if we look closely, a high achiever has a degree of control over their behaviour, and thoughts, whereas a perfectionist won’t be having this control, hence they put too much pressure on themselves. Perfectionists also have a high ideal image of themselves and their goals, this isn’t realistic which makes it difficult for them to actually achieve it. Moreover, when they face a setback, it becomes difficult for them to accept it and move past it.

Paul Hewitt and Gordon Flett are psychologists who have been researching on perfectionism since 20 years. According to them, perfectionism correlates with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, psychopathology, narcissism and suicide. They developed a perfectionism scale with three types of perfectionism: self-oriented, other-oriented and socially-prescribed.

Self-oriented perfectionists

Self-oriented perfectionists
photo courtesy: mid-today
They prefer following rules and have a strong motivation to achieve perfection and avoid failure.

Other-oriented perfectionists

Other-oriented perfectionists
photo courtesy: Pinterest
They have unrealistic standards for significant others such as children or spouse and, judge them on the basis of these standards. When the significant others are not able to live up to these standards, issues start occurring.

Socially-prescribed perfectionists

Socially-prescribed perfectionists
photo courtesy: livingfreely
They believe that others hold high expectations from them and believe that others are constantly judging their behaviours and decisions.

If you are still unsure about a perfectionist’s character, then here are 8 common traits of perfectionists:

  1. Motivated - They are constantly driven to achieve high standards of excellence, hence they are intrinsically motivated.

  2. Methodical - They want to do everything according to the rules because it makes them feel assured that they will get the desired results, so they are highly methodical.

  3. Stressed - They are constantly anxious or stressed because of so much pressure they put on themselves.

  4. Self-critical - It’s true that most successful people are their own harshest critic, but perfectionists take it a notch higher. There is no room for any mistakes with them and when they do make a mistake they are very harsh on themselves.

  5. High expectation - They always have high expectations not just for themselves, but also from people close to them.

  6. All or nothing approach - In this approach, a situation is seen as either black or white, and there is nothing in the middle. Things like being average, in the middle, has no room. Basically, it means they would either do the task completely well or won’t do it at all.

  7. Fear of failure - Their fear of failure not only causes anxiety and distress but it also can sometimes make them believe that they shouldn’t take a risk and stay in the safe zone.

  8. Control - Perfectionists only believe in themselves, they have a hard time giving over control to someone else or trusting others. They would rather spend all night working on something alone than to divide it and trust others to do their part. This becomes an issue in leadership roles because the biggest role of a leader is to delegate powers to others according to their strengths and without this, the whole system collapses.

Written by
Sucharitha V

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