Article #2: The Costs of Being a Perfectionist

0124162001593638390.jpgPerfectionism always costs more than the benefits it might provide.  It can result in being paralyzed with fear and becoming so rigid that a person is difficult to relate to.  It can produce contradictory styles, from being highly productive to being completely unproductive.  Some examples of these costs include the following:

Low self-esteem.  Just as low self-esteem is a cause of perfectionist behavior, it is also a result.  Because a perfectionist never feels good enough about himself or his personal performance, he usually feels like a loser or a failure.

Gloominess.   Since a perfectionist is convinced that it will be next to impossible to achieve most goals, she can easily develop a negative attitude.

Depression.  Perfectionists often feel discouraged and depressed because they are driven to be perfect but know that it is impossible to reach the ideal.

Guilt.  Perfections never think they handle things well.  They often feel a sense of shame and guilt as a result.

Rigidity.  Since perfectionists need to have everything meet an ideal, they tend to become inflexible and lack spontaneity.

Lack of motivation.  A person who expects perfection may never try new behaviors or learn new skills because she thinks that she will never be able to do it well enough.  At other times, she may begin the new behavior but give up early because she fears that she will never reach her goal.

Paralysis.  Since most perfectionists have an intense fear of failure, they sometimes become immobilized and stagnant.  Writers who suffer from writer’s block are examples of the perfectionist’s paralysis.

Obsessive behavior.  When a person needs a certain order or structure in his life, he may become overly focused on details and rules.

Compulsive behavior.  A perfectionist who feels like a failure or loser may medicate him- or herself with alcohol, drugs, food, shopping, sex, gambling, or other high risk behaviors.

Eating disorders.  Many studies have determined that perfectionism is a central issue for people who develop eating disorders.

by Dr. Eve Kilmer

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