A client story
I realized not too long ago that some of my clients weren’t really aware of their little perfectionist side.
To tell you the whole story, I had a session with a client during which we talked about a personality test she had taken. She told me that she did indeed recognize herself in some of the negative aspects of the personality description. She listed these “negative” sides:
- reluctant to innovate or improvise
- vulnerable to criticism
- often too needy (fishing for compliments)
- too selfless
She wondered what conclusion to draw from these personality traits because she saw no connection between any of them.
I suggested to her that perfectionism could be the link between each of these characteristics because controlling, needing recognition and putting others first are some aspects of perfectionism.
Indeed, it made sense as all these behaviors could be explained by an underlying perfectionism.
3 types of perfectionism!
What we often don’t know is that there are 3 types of perfectionism!
- Self-oriented perfectionism: the person expects the best from themselves, always seeks more and better, never really satisfied with their achievements…
- Other-oriented perfectionism: the person expects others to behave in a certain way and it bothers them when they don’t, becoming slightly intolerant and controlling
- A socially prescribed perfectionism: the person thinks that she needs to be perfect to be loved and accepted and therefore does a lot for others, in search of recognition
The related fears
What is important to understand is that under every type of perfectionism hides a fear.
The self-oriented perfectionist is afraid of not being capable, competent, good enough,… So to avoid this fear, the person always does more to prove himself.
The other-oriented perfectionist is afraid of not having control, of what could happen,… So to manage this fear, she tries to control everything, her life, her schedule, the others… We never know what might happen!
The socially prescribed perfectionist is fearful of not being accepted. So she tries her best to be socially perfect and not disappoint others.
All these fears can either push perfectionists to always do more, or lead them to procrastination or even paralysis.
And instead of taming their fears, these behaviors actually drain their energy, make them constantly anxious, and slowly sink their self-confidence.
So watch out for the signs!
Here are some additional clues to recognise perfectionism;
- A black or white way of thinking: it’s all or nothing, it is excellent or it sucks, ..
- An obsession with the result to be achieved with little pleasure in the process
- The fear of being wrong
- the need to anticipate, plan, control
- The constant comparison with others
- The difficulty of trying something new
- The need for recognition from others
This list is not exhaustive but can already give you an idea of the thoughts and behaviors of a perfectionist person.
Do you think you might have perfectionist sides?
Do they get in the way of what you’re trying to accomplish professionally or personally?
If so, it’s time to deal with it!
You will find some solutions in the following videos:
And if that’s not enough, don’t hesitate to contact me. As a former perfectionist, I’d be happy to help!