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9 Indications You’re a Perfectionist and Why It Is Affecting Your Mental Wellbeing



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It’s not uncommon to see individuals in all walks of life claiming to be perfectionism lovers. Such people are more humble braggers who try to convince others that their pursuit of excellence can, admittedly, be a tiny brag, but is also a badge of honor for them.

Due to the fact that excellence is a strong key to success, we see how the top names in sports, corporate world, and leaders from various industries have high expectations around them. Unfortunately, being a perfectionist restrains them from reaching their ultimate prime.

Below we discuss the 9 signs that show you’re a perfectionist, and how it’s doing harm than good:

1. You want perfection from everyone

Not only do perfectionists expect a flawless performance and actions from themselves, but they also expect it from everyone around or in their circle. By setting unrealistic expectations for others, perfectionists have almost negligible patience for those who fail to live up to their standards. This is a major reason why their relationships, either personally, professionally or socially, suffer due to their inappropriate demands.

2. You struggle to accomplish goals in a timely manner

Completing tasks in a timely manner is appreciated, but what separates perfectionists from the rest is that they struggle to get anything done. For example, they may write or review an email countless times or go through a sales pitch before finalizing, but still aren’t sure whether to send it or not. This is where their deliverables suffer due to the majority of time eaten up in performing tasks repeatedly and thinking they aren’t still good enough.

3. You consider mistakes as a proof that you’re incompetent

Perfectionists think that mistakes aren’t opportunities for learning. Rather, they feel that each mistake committed by them further cements the fact that they aren’t good enough. This makes them stay harsh and criticize themselves and even the most ignorable mistakes will leave them devastated.

4. You input a lot of effort into covering your shortcomings

One of the greatest fears consuming perfectionists is that they’ll be judged for their shortcomings and flaws. In order to get through that judgment, they want to maintain an appearance of perfection. Hence, they realize that mastering the art of displaying perfection, even when they are broken inside, is the best way to hide their incompetency and inconsistency.

“This is who I am. I’m not perfect. I don’t want to try to be perfect.” – Michael Strahan

5. You avoid encountering tasks that leave you vulnerable to failure

Perfectionists are more inclined to show off their existing skills, and not learn new ones. Rather than selecting tasks with a steep learning curve, they prefer tasks which are less challenging in nature and where success is almost certain. They rarely undertake projects that offer something new as they aren’t sure regarding the success or complexity factor involved in those tasks.

6. You don’t celebrate your success

No matter how much greater accomplishment is acquired, a perfectionist won’t celebrate his or her success. They won’t acknowledge their talent, but a stroke of luck that was responsible for success. You will hear them say some common things like, “I could’ve done better” or “The project would’ve been completed earlier had I been smarter and efficient.”

7. Your self-worth relies on your accomplishments

Perfectionists do feel good, especially when they achieve something really extraordinary or new in life. On the downside, a single or minor rejection can send them spiraling down due to the fact that they aren’t measuring up their life as they should be.

Furthermore, positive personality traits such as compassion, empathy, or humor aren’t something that perfectionists feel people around them will get impressed by.

8. Your journey towards perfection causes your mental stability to rot

Apparently, setting unrealistic expectations both in personal and professional life takes its toll on our mental health. Several researchers have concluded that perfectionists often suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety attacks, eating disorders, and fall victim to depression. Even worse, the thoughts of achieving perfectionism also leads to the development of suicidal tendencies in individuals.

9. You are never content with your life

The attached fear of failure in everything they lay their hands on keeps perfectionists from being satisfied with life and its blessings. Researchers state that perfectionists often fare well in less-stressed environments.

However, the greatest things in life never come free of their fair share of challenges. Therefore, everyday stress and frustrations leave them dissatisfied with countless things in their life.

“I’m not perfect; no one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. I think you try to learn from those mistakes.” – Derek Jeter

Is there a turn of events on the cards?

People who are bothered by the complex of perfectionism can slightly make a good start by realizing the presence and gravity of their situation. You need to understand that life is full of challenges and expectations, which at times are unrealistic and out of your control. It’s your duty to tackle them with an open and clear mind in order to make the best decision possible.

Although perfectionism hasn’t yet qualified to be designated as a mental health problem, individuals plagued by it can certainly consult a professional psychologist. The point is to pour out your fears and insecurities which will help the mental health professional to use them for your mental wellbeing.

As a conclusion, you should strive to get the best out of yourself, but expect hiccups along the way. This makes for a fantastic learning experience which benefits you throughout your years.

Are you a perfectionist? Do you think it affects your mental well-being? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Elizabeth Mailey is a strategic marketing and branding expert. She also helps students with Assignment Help online solve their problems and achieve their business goals through included marketing solutions distinguished by research, storytelling, engagement, and conversion.


What Les Misérables Taught Me About Our Values



Who am I? The ultimate question many of us try to answer. When I think of values, I think of Victor Hugo’s 1862 book, “Les’ Miserables”. In Hugo’s book, Jean Valjean, is used as a protagonist to highlight the power in redemptive love and compassion. Valjean goes into prison for stealing a loaf of bread, entering as a simple and decent man. His time in jail seems to have an unrepairable effect, where he emerges from the chain gang as a tough, bitter criminal who hates society for what it has done to him. (more…)

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7 Ways You Can Increase Your Concentration Right Away



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In today’s world, an overabundance of information and a large number of distractions is making it increasingly difficult to concentrate on performing the necessary tasks. In this article, I propose 7 simple methods that will train your ability to concentrate, while not taking you from your usual activities. (more…)

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5 Simple Hacks to Help You Develop the Habit That Will Transform Your Life



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It’s excruciating when we know what’s killing us but we can’t do anything about it because as you know, it is not easy to pull the brake on a high way. According to Napoleon Hill, “remember this always – the best (and one might say the only) way in which old habits may be removed is to form new habits to counteract and replace the undesirable ones”. (more…)

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Why Do We Have An Unconscious Bias and How Can We Manage It?



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When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?

As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?

Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.  

Let’s park this one for now and we will come back. 

Categorization is essential to our survival

There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses. 

The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.

An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.

In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.

When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting! 

Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.

  1. lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin 
  2. lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin

The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.

Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored. 

This amazing skill has its drawbacks

As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.

Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)

Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.  

This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.

Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.  

The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people

We can overcome unconscious bias 

Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals. 

Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms. 

Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds. 

The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals. 

What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!

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