Perfectionism thinking is a cognitive process in which someone strives to achieve extremely high standards of performance, often to the point that it becomes impossible and leads to distress. Perfectionists tend to focus on details rather than seeing the big picture, they may be overly critical of themselves, and they can become easily frustrated when things do not go exactly as planned. Perfectionism can lead to anxiety, depression, and even physical health problems if left unchecked.
Fortunately, therapists can help individuals with perfectionistic thinking processes by guiding them through the process of understanding and changing their thought patterns. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective means of helping individuals learn how to identify and change their unhelpful thinking patterns and behaviors. Through CBT, therapists can help perfectionists understand the impact that their thoughts have on their moods and behavior.
Therapists can also help individuals develop more realistic expectations and goals by teaching them to focus on the process rather than the outcome. Instead of focusing on perfection, individuals can learn to focus on setting goals that are achievable and attainable; this can help them manage their frustration and anxieties.
What is Perfectionism?
Perfectionism is a personality trait characterized by the need to strive for flawless achievement and proficiency. It can be associated with an obsessive need for order, control, and achievement. Individuals with perfectionism can have extremely high standards for themselves and others; they may also find it difficult to take risks or make mistakes. Perfectionistic thinking can be debilitating and interfere with daily functioning, relationships, and work productivity.
Problems with Perfectionism
People who struggle with perfectionistic tendencies may be prone to feelings of frustration and inadequacy. Their stringent standards of excellence tend to be unrealistic and unattainable, leading to feelings of disappointment. Perfectionistic thinking can also lead to procrastination since the person may seek to avoid the potential of criticism or failure. They may also become overly critical and judgmental of themselves and others, creating an atmosphere that is unproductive and emotionally draining.
How Therapists Can Help
The first step in overcoming perfectionistic tendencies is to recognize and identify the problem. A therapist in Hopkins can help to identify and understand the underlying causes of perfectionistic thinking. The therapist will work with the individual to develop healthier thought patterns and recognize triggers for perfectionistic thinking. The therapist can help the individual to set realistic goals and develop strategies for dealing with their anxiety about failure.
The therapist can also help the individual to better recognize and challenge unhelpful thoughts that lead to perfectionism. The therapy may involve cognitive restructuring, which helps the individual to recognize irrational thoughts and replace them with more positive ones. The therapist can also help the individual learn relaxation techniques to reduce physical and psychological symptoms of anxiety associated with perfectionism.
As with the psychology field as a whole, every case is different and unique. Thus, the therapist should tailor their approach to the individual’s needs and goals. The goal of therapy is often to help individuals develop skills and strategies to manage their perfectionism, rather than eliminate it. Work with a therapist willing to get to know you and you can overcome perfectionism so that it doesn’t interfere with your life. Good luck!