Ask Michelle – Your “Family Therapist” – STOP TRYING TO BE PERFECT

stop-trying-perfect-1024x683From the time we are born, other people continually evaluate our behavior, correct our mistakes, and encourage us to improve our performance. For example, parents teach their children to walk, talk, be polite and clean their rooms. Teachers train their students to read, write and do arithmetic, and they frequently test their students’ skills and provide feedback. From time to time, even our employers, spouses, children, friends and perfect strangers find it important to evaluate our behavior and correct our mistakes. No wonder some people become overly concerned about doing a perfect job and making a good impression on others!
Setting high standards and striving to achieve them is considered by most people a sign of a strength of character. High standards allow some people to reach peak levels of performance in sports, business, academia, and almost every other field. Perfectionism, on the other hand, involves a tendency to set standards that are so high they cannot possible be met. The standards that perfectionists hold also tend to be inflexible, and when they are not achieved, the people who hold them may feel depressed, disappointed, anxious, or angry!
With perfectionism, high standards often interfere with performance by causing the perfectionist to procrastinate, avoid situations when there is a risk of making mistakes, or spend huge amounts of time trying to get things just right! People who score high in perfectionism tend to hold unrealistic high personal standards, doubt their accomplishments, and worry about making mistakes. They also may hold excessively high standards for others, leading to frustration when their expectations are not met.
So, for those perfectionists who want to break free of their unrealistic, self-imposed guidelines, a technique that is useful for combating perfectionistic thinking is perspective taking. Essentially, this involves trying to see things from another person’s point of view. For example, if you are concerned about others find your new outfit unattractive, you might ask yourself, “How might someone who is less concerned about looking perfect think about this situation?” Even the most fashionable of dressers occasionally get it wrong, and you can afford not to look your best from time to time. In all likelihood, people will like what you are wearing, and if they don’t you will survive.
South Shore Counseling & Mediation Center is a full service mental health agency, offering CBT counseling, EFT modalities – (tapping), therapeutic counseling, a variety of behavioral and psycho-educational programs and divorce mediation. To speak with one of our therapists please call 631-286-8282, e-mail us at SSCounseling1@optonline.net or visit our website southshorecounselingcenter.net.

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