Almost everyone pursues excellence — doing the best job you can, setting goals and working hard to reach them, maintaining high standards. But being a perfectionist isn’t about any of this. Perfectionism is a long, maddening drive down a never-ending road for flawlessness; it provides no rest stops for mistakes, personal limitations or the changing of minds.
Perfectionism can cause feelings of anxiety, fear, and self-doubt; it can cripple self-esteem, stifle creativity, and put a stumbling block in the way of intimate friendships and love relationships. Ultimately, it can create or aggravate illnesses such as eating disorders, manic-depressive mood disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and substance abuse.
Everybody has some “built-in” perfectionism, especially in our achievement-oriented, competitive culture. Complete this questionnaire to discover how much of a perfectionist you are.
- I never do anything halfway; it’s all or nothing for me. Every time.
- People who do things halfway make me angry or disgust me.
- I believe there’s a certain way to do things and they should always be done that way.
- I get angry or defensive when I make mistakes. I hate to make them.
- I often procrastinate on starting projects. I seldom meet deadlines. Or if I do, I kill myself meeting them.
- I feel humiliated when things aren’t perfect.
- I don’t like to admit not knowing how to do something or to being a beginner. If I can’t do something well, I won’t do it.
- People say I expect too much of myself. Or of them.
- In my family, you could never completely measure up to expectations.
- I’m hard on myself when I lose, even if it’s only a friendly game or contest.
- I often withdraw from others and from group activities.
- I don’t think work should be fun or pleasurable.
- Even when I accomplish something, I feel let down or empty.
- I criticize myself and others excessively.
- I like to be in control; if I can’t be in control then I won’t participate.
- No matter how much I have done, there’s always more I could do.
- I don’t delegate often and when I do, I always double-check to make sure the job is done right. It never is.
- I believe it is possible to do something perfectly and if I keep at it, I can do it perfectly.
- Forgetting and forgiving is not something I do easily or well.
There is a difference between excellence and perfection. Striving to be really good is excellence; trying to be flawless is perfectionism. If you’re concerned about your perfectionist behavior, don’t hesitate to call… I can relate all too well!
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