In the last post, I shared about the destructiveness of unhealthy perfectionism. I’m a recovering perfectionist, and I understand first-hand the pain of perfectionism, and how it often comes from a place of deep shame of “not ever being good enough.”
I don’t remember feeling quite this bad in my first pregnancy. This one –I’m barely surviving. I force myself to get up in the morning and my only goal is to get my 2-year old something to eat and then get out the door. I go to the park or the mall and we walk around for hours – until my feet are too swollen to take any more and I have to return home. I’m overwhelmed by the guilt of everything I just can’t manage to do – laundry, getting meals ready, cleaning the house. I feel guilty for not being a better mother to my daughter. For not being who I should be. For letting my husband down. For not enjoying this pregnancy. For being irritable and angry. It’s easier just to leave the house everyday….
In the last post, I shared about the destructiveness of unhealthy perfectionism. I’m a recovering perfectionist, and I understand first-hand the pain of perfectionism, and how it often comes from a place of deep shame of “not ever being good enough.” Why recovering? Because I hit a wall where my perfectionism was affecting my emotional health, my relationships, and how I felt about my life.
Three Minutes to an “Aha” Moment
The questions below can help you identify which of the three areas you struggle in. Often, perfectionists struggle in more than one. Many times, when women we work with do these kinds of questionnaires they feel validated – because suddenly it all makes sense. They understand who they are in a deeper way. Putting words to feelings and experiences can be a powerful starting point.
Three Minute Assessment
The questions are adapted from three research questionnaires that are used widely by psychologists. Answer yes or no. Basically, the more yes responses you have, the more strongly you show unhealthy perfectionism.
I Can’t Fail!
- If I fail at work, I am a failure as a person.
- I often become upset when I make a mistake.
- If someone does a task at work/school better than I, then I feel like I failed the whole task.
- If I fail partly, to me it is as bad as being a complete failure.
- I hate being less than the best at things.
- People will probably think less of me if I make a mistake.
- If I do not do as well as other people, it means I am less than others.
- If I do not do well all the time, people will not respect me.
- The fewer mistakes I make, the more people will like me.
- For me, it is all-or-nothing. Either I succeed or I fail.
I Must Be Perfect!
1. I am never satisfied with my accomplishments.
2. I am not satisfied even when I know I have done my best.
3. I am hardly ever satisfied with my performance.
4. I hardly ever feel that what I’ve done is good enough.
5. My best just never seems to be good enough for me.
6. Doing my best never seems to be enough.
7. I am seldom able to meet my own high standards for performance.
8. I often feel frustrated because I can’t meet my goals.
9. I often worry about not measuring up to my own expectations.
10. I often feel disappointment after completing a task because I know I could have done better.
11. I keep trying to meet my standards, even at the expense of my wellbeing and relationships.
Others are Crushing Me!
- My family expects me to be perfect
- People expect nothing less than perfection from me
- Although they may not show it, other people get upset with me when I slip up
- The people around me expect me to succeed at everything I do
- Success means I must work even harder to please others
- The better I do, the better I am expected to do
- People expect more from me than I am capable of giving
- I cannot stand to see people close to me make mistakes
- I feel that people are too demanding of me
- Others like me, but only when I excel or succeed at everything
- People around me will not think I am competent if I make a mistake
- I find it difficult to meet others’ expectations of me
- Those around me do not readily accept that I can make mistakes too
- Anything that I do that is less than excellent will be seen as poor work by those around me
- I have to be the best at whatever I am doing
There is Hope!
You don’t have to let destructive perfectionism affect who you are, your joy, your emotional wellbeing. You CAN become a healthy perfectionist, keeping all the good parts about your nature – like setting high goals and striving for them.
Did you miss part one and two in this series?
Hewitt, P. L., Flett, G. L., Turnbull-Donovan, W., & Mikail, S. F. (1991). The Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale: Reliability, validity, and psychometric properties in psychiatric samples. Psychological Assessment, 3(3), 464–468. http://doi.org/10.1037/1040-3518.104.22.1684
J Pers Assess. 2014;96(3):368-79. doi: 10.1080/00223891.2013.838172. Epub 2013 Oct 3.
The short form of the revised almost perfect scale.