Some people are natural-born leaders. As a result, they see something that needs to be done and seize the chance to head it up. If there is a problem, they point it out and fix it. They often love to work, and their sense of perfectionism renders them unwilling to leave a job half done. They are driven to succeed.
Being motivated to succeed is a great attribute. Moreover, the world needs strong and charismatic leaders, problem solvers, and hard workers.
They can be a real blessing. Or not…
Motivation to succeed becomes unhealthy with the:
- Belief that worthiness needs to be earned. If value as a person is defined by success and failure, the constant stress to measure up is damaging to mental health.
- Need for constant validation and approval from others. The struggle with self-image challenges creates the need to constantly prove oneself to others in order to be seen as valuable.
- Failure to celebrate accomplishments. Being critical of oneself and others. Instead of celebrating successes, the focus is on what went wrong while ignoring what went right.
- Setting unrealistic high expectations. This action can be directed at oneself, at others, and at the world at large, setting up for failure and disappointment.
- Inability to tolerate criticism. Any criticism is a threat. The shame of imperfection prevents constructive criticism to be experienced as a growing opportunity.
- Development of maladaptive behaviors. When the process becomes irrelevant and it is all about the results, then procrastination, avoidance of challenges and all-or-nothing thinking become the norm.
Unhealthy perfectionism is often accompanied by depression, anxiety and other disorders. Instead, this can be redirected, and become instead a healthy striving to achieve.
Here are six strategies that utilize goal setting, ambition and healthy striving:
- Avoid ruminating. It involves going in circles, again and again, thinking about a problem without arriving at any solution.
- Ask for feedback. Speak to a trusted family member, friend, or co-worker and allow them to let you know if you are being too picky or fussy.
- Analyze your behavior. Get outside of yourself and observe without judging. Are you being avoidant or procrastinating for fear of failing? Did you spend way too much time on the little details while losing track of the big picture?
- Allow imperfection. It allows for creativity, healthy risk raking and greater connection with others. People like to connect with others that they see as imperfect. Consequently, they are viewed as more approachable and less standoffish.
- Establish attainable goals. Set realistic goals. Acknowledge that nobody is perfect and you are doing the best you realistically can do, and that is great.
- Accept yourself. No matter what you own and what you do, you are deserving of respect, acceptance and love from others and especially from you. You are good enough! As Brene Brown eloquently said: “Worthiness doesn't have prerequisites.”
If negative perfectionism continues interfering with your life and well-being, reach out to a professional.