I spent 16 hours in a row to get an animated graphic to work properly on a website. That’s very sad. I’m a perfectionist, and on that occasion I was out of control.
Perfectionism is tricky. A little bit can make you strive hard; too much and you’re susceptible to stress, anxiety and even depression. Where is the line between the two?
Here is a comparison from the University of Texas Counseling and Mental Health Center.
- sets standards beyond reach and reason
- is never satisfied by less than perfection
- becomes dysfunctionally depressed when experiences failure
- is preoccupied with fear of failure and disapproval
- sees mistakes as evidence of unworthiness
- becomes overly defensive when criticized
A healthy striver:
- sets high standards, just beyond reach
- enjoys the process as well as the outcome
- bounces back from failure and disappointment quickly and with energy
- keeps normal anxiety and fear of failure and disapproval within normal bounds
- sees mistakes as opportunities for growth and learning
- reacts positively to helpful criticism.
Perfectionism is destructive and people seek and receive treatment for it. CBT is the norm. To me the hardest thing is seeing when aiming high is getting out of hand and becoming destructive.
Writing this post is a good case in point. I should have a stopwatch on.