Perfectionism and support

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Perfectionism and support

Postby k10sj02 » March 12th, 2014, 12:17 am


I'm a 21-year-old college student. I suffer from severe and sometimes debilitating perfectionism. I have always been perfectionist but this obsession has been even more intense after a nervous depressive breakdown I had 2 years ago. I need everything to be perfect. My "perfect" is grades --- getting A's, & being involved in clubs especially. Grades for me have always determined my self-worth as I had very demanding parents and suffered from bullying in high-school. These experiences really damaged by esteem and I channeled my frustrations into the only I could control --- my grades. I have been making great strides recently in being less "perfect" but it has been tough. What makes it harder is that I lack a network of people who have direct experience with this problem. I would like to create that type of support so I can live a more balanced and fulfilling life.

I don't want to make this post too long. If there is anyone who suffers from a similar problem, I'd love for you to respond to this post.
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Re: Perfectionism and support

Postby manuel_moe_g » March 14th, 2014, 2:21 pm

My fear of failure had me limiting what I tried, and so stunting my growth. I am trying to change my relationship with failure. Life is more about failure than success, because we fail UNTIL we succeed and after we succeed we move on to higher goals, where we fail again until we get our footing on the new plateau.
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Re: Perfectionism and support

Postby Jitters » March 31st, 2014, 1:44 pm

Yes to this. Perfectionism rules my life to an extent and I am trying to change my way of thinking. I am constantly saying to myself "I should..." at the end of that is usually exercise, eat healthy at all times, be pleasant, have my apartment clean, etc... I am using a workbook and seeing a therapist right now (anxiety) and realizing that I have to change the way I'm talking to myself. I'm working on it, but it's hard to be self aware of what you're saying. And being nice to yourself can really help. I've been substituting shoulds with wants or asking myself is this a standard I would hold anyone else to? No I would be understanding that life happens and I can't always do a thing. Anyway I feel you and you're definitely not alone.
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Re: Perfectionism and support

Postby Vonnesky » June 28th, 2014, 10:08 am

My problem with perfectionism really escalated after a depressive break last year. It has basically gotten to the point where I can't bring myself to do anything. A couple things have been helping me lately. Small improvements, but better than nothing, right?

I'm working hard to be more self-compassionate. The more I can accept that I don't have to be a genius in everything I do, and that the work is valuable even if it isn't perfect, the less fearful I am of mistakes. The standards we set for ourselves are unrealistic for anybody.

I also have to keep reminding myself that if I truly want to improve I simply HAVE to make mistakes and fail sometimes. It's the only way to learn.

So really my only advice is to work on self-compassion and shutting down negative self-talk when it happens. Read up on it and find what resonates with you so you can cut yourself some slack.
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Re: Perfectionism and support

Postby norskheks » June 28th, 2014, 5:15 pm

I've always been a perfectionist -- my parents don't think they are, but they're both perfectionists in different ways, and although they SAID it was okay to make mistakes, they certainly didn't set that example. Like you, OP, my perfectionism manifested for many years mainly in grades and schoolwork. I hate saying this cos it sounds so stuck up, but I really am smarter than my family and many of my peers, so getting perfect grades was the easiest thing for me to obsess over. Now that I am a PhD student (not out of perfectionism but because I really do love my field) and suddenly grades don't matter anymore, I've had a really hard time figuring out how to judge myself and figure out if I'm good enough, so I've looked in my advisors' comments, my boyfriend's texts, random people's random comments, my bosses' attitude, etc. etc. etc. I know now that it's unhealthy, but I still feel like I'm nothing if I don't have external proof.
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Re: Perfectionism and support

Postby judasiscariotjr » June 30th, 2014, 1:21 pm

My coping strategy for dealing with my perfectionism was to say "F- it, why bother?"
I have been struggling with this my whole life and I'm sure I always will. I am sure this has held me back in life in many ways.
I don't have any wisdom to offer, but I do hear you all and I understand. Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Perfectionism and support

Postby Brooke » October 11th, 2014, 5:15 am

I'm so glad you wrote this post. I'm a recovering perfectionist myself. I think perfectionism stems from deep insecurity...and lack of self-respect. My parents totally did it for now as an adult, I've taken their voices and is always pushing and criticizing myself. On the surface, perfectionists have it all, but on the inside it is eating them up. It's no way to live. We are hurting ourselves every day... I would always feel like a failure. It took a toll on my health, badly. I think perfectionists don't trust nor believe in themselves, that's why they have to keep "working on it (whatever 'it' is)." I had to finally realize that I am ok just as I am and that no external thing can raise or deny me. It is so hard and I struggle with this every day.
With your situation, I'm sure after you graduate, it's off to the next "task" of jobs, incomes, titles, etc. It's never ending, so you have to be willing to put an end to it. Not cold turkey, but gradually.
If you need support, you can always reach out to me here (I don't personally know how to do it since I just joined).
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