Monday, January 31, 2011

Part 11: The Role of Perfectionism in Anxiety and Self-Esteem

Part 11: The Role of Perfectionism in Anxiety and Self-Esteem

We all know that no one is perfect.  And yet many of us will drive ourselves half-crazy trying to prove that wrong.  If one pillow is out of place on the couch, we can’t stand it. We have to fix it, so that it is picture perfect.  When it is momentarily perfect, we feel in control and good about ourselves. As soon is something shifts, we feel out of control and “less” than.

Recent studies have shown that people with perfectionist tendencies have notably higher levels of anxiety and depression. That is because they are always striving for what is impossible. They are always falling short, because the goal is never to be reached.

Because they are constantly measuring themselves against a completely unrealistic benchmark, perfectionists can never feel good about what they have done because they are consumed by what they haven’t. 

So where does this fall in the world of self-esteem.  It is my belief that it becomes an unreliable filter of if we are worthy or if we are not. It also acts as a visual validation of our success or a visual validation of our failure…mostly of our failure again as perfect can never be achieved.  But, if for a minute everything looks perfect, then we can feel good for that minute.  But it is fleeting.

Note the person who has the tiniest pimple on their chin.  A perfectionist wouldn’t be able to concentrate on anything but that pimple.  They would assume that everyone they have contact with would also be unable to notice anything about them but that pimple.  It would ruin their entire day. It might seem silly to us, but to them it is as glowing as a scar etched across their forehead.  And so it becomes a source of extreme anxiety and depression. 

A perfectionist tries to control all outside influences by controlling their personal environment, work and appearances.  Sadly, somewhere they’ve been held to this standard that is unachievable.  Yet, their self-esteem depends on trying to achieve it.  But since they are always falling short of the goal, there is always a feeling of inadequacy, anxiety and depression.

Learning to be “good” with just being “good” is harder than it seems. First, a perfectionist needs to find a new benchmark by which to measure their success and performance before they can begin to shift their attachment to perfection.

Release your addition to perfection and free yourself from a world of anxiety, depression and disappointment.

To your TRUE success!


Kathleen Aston
Founder & Life-Fulfillment Strategist

For more information on your complimentary 30-minute coaching session, call 888.447.1191.

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