It's common to have a picture of how things are supposed to go. In our mind, we see the outcome of a certain situation so flawlessly it's hard to imagine that it won't go according to plan. Yet, very rarely does something turn out perfect. The truth is we all chase after perfection at some point.
But perfectionism is a goal that is almost always just out of our reach. Because of this, we don't let ourselves make mistakes. Or have a slip-up. There is nothing wrong with wanting to improve yourself and your skills. However, there does come a point when that becomes too out of control.
Known as perfectionism, it is something that many people deal with on a daily basis. But striving for perfection typically only results in one thing—feeling disappointed. If you aren't sure if you are dealing with perfectionism, let's go over what this is and how it can impact your mental health.
What Is Perfectionism?
Perfectionism is not a diagnosable mental health disorder, although it can be an off-shoot of Generalized Anxiety Disorder(GAD). Some common signs of perfectionism include:
Having high expectations for yourself and other people around you.
Only seeing two outcomes to every scenario—it going perfectly or completely failing. There are no other measures of success.
Immense disappointment when a task doesn't go smoothly or as planned.
What Are The Impacts Of Perfectionism On Mental Health?
Always wanting to achieve perfection puts the body and mind under immense pressure. Knowing other people have high expectations for you is already challenging. But knowing that this expectation is coming from within is a whole different ball game. And it makes it even harder to contend with.
It Can Cause Low Self-Esteem
People often believe that just because someone is a perfectionist that they also are highly confident in themselves. Actually, that isn't always the case. Perfectionists are actually known to have lower levels of self-esteem because of how critical they are toward themselves.
Not Living Up To Their Own Expectations Is Hard
No matter who you are, you likely prefer to avoid making mistakes. For most people, it is chalked up to a lesson learned, and they can move on. A perfectionist, through no fault of their own, does not have this luxury. When things don't go how they feel they should, it leaves them feeling disappointed and frustrated with themselves. Not only does that lower long-term self-esteem levels, but it can also worsen other mental health issues.
Increase Chance Of Anxiety Disorder
Even though perfectionism is a form of anxiety, that doesn't always mean that someone actually has an anxiety disorder. However, when perfectionism is left to run rampant, it can cause chronic anxiety to manifest itself.
Higher Chance Of Depression
Nobody seeks out wanting to have such high impossible standards. It is just something that develops over time. However, this prolonged exposure to never being able to attain perfection can lead to depression. Perfectionism can cause depression because of lowered self-esteem and increased, constant sadness when things don't go someone's way.
Perfectionism has a way of taking over somebody's life. However, control can still be taken back. While it is challenging to deal with, learning to reverse perfectionist tendencies is absolutely possible. No matter how long someone has been a perfectionist, these behaviors can be unlearned. The brain can always be rewired to approach things with a different perspective.