Some researchers divide perfectionists into three types, based on answers to standardized questionnaires: Self-oriented strivers who struggle to live up to their high standards and appear to be at risk of self-critical depression; outwardly focused zealots who expect perfection from others, often ruining relationships; and those desperate to live up to an ideal they’re convinced others expect of them, a risk factor for suicidal thinking and eating disorders.
“It’s natural for people to want to be perfect in a few things, say in their job – being a good editor or surgeon depends on not making mistakes,” said Gordon L. Flett, a psychology professor at York University and an author of many of the studies. “It’s when it generalizes to other areas of life, home life, appearance, hobbies, that you begin to see real problems.”
If you’re a perfectionist and you think that it might be nice to NOT be one, then there’s even some advice to help you ‘get over it’.
Leave work on time. Don’t arrive early. Take all the breaks allowed. Leave the desk a mess. Allow yourself a set number of tries to finish a job; then turn in what you have.
“And then ask: Did you get punished? Did the university continue to function? Are you happier?” Ms. Provost said. “They were surprised that yes, everything continued to function, and the things they were so worried about weren’t that crucial.”
The world continues to turn. Heads do NOT explode. People still like you. Or dislike you, if that’s the case. Being a perfectionist simply prevents you from being happy, and since that’s your ultimate goal, let go of those perfectionist tendencies.
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