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PERFECTIONISM

OVERCOMING UNHEALTHY PERFECTIONISM

Understanding Perfectionism
Perfectionism is a personality trait characterized by self-criticism and by setting exceptionally high standards for oneself. Individuals will constantly evaluate their own performance and outcomes against their high standards while rigidly adhering to rules. Perfectionists experience significant anxiety when they are unable to meet their own expectations. This anxiety can manifest in behaviors such as avoidance and procrastination, as individuals delay tasks for fear of not executing them perfectly.
Signs of Unhealthy Perfectionism Include:

All-or-nothing thinking patterns

Procrastination due to paralysis over being perfect

Difficulty delegating tasks to or trusting others

Severe self-criticism

Deriving self-worth primarily from achievements

High and often unrealistic standards

Fear of failure and making mistakes

Strict adherence to rules

Indecisiveness and immense pressure to things "right"

Finding Balance Through Treatment

This harsh inner-critic takes an emotional toll. Unhealthy perfectionists frequently experience anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, as well as relationship, career, and life satisfaction issues.

 

While the roots are complex, perfectionist tendencies often develop from early life experiences, societal pressures, personal beliefs, and thought patterns that become deeply ingrained. At our practice, we provide therapeutic support to help you overcome crippling perfectionism and develop more self-compassion. Our evidence-based approaches include:

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) focuses on cultivating psychological flexibility. ACT helps individuals develop a different relationship with difficult thoughts and make room for unpleasant feelings, and learn new ways to interact with them while making values-based choices in life.

Mindfulness Practices

Practicing mindfulness can help individuals develop a different relationship with their mind and learn how to observe their thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations without getting caught up in ideas and opinions. Being mindful means observing our inner experience non-judgmentally while staying present with what we have chosen to focus on.

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)

ERP approach entails individuals willingly confronting the very triggers and thoughts (images) that provoke anxiety without engaging in rituals. Through consistent practice of exposure exercises, individuals will learn how to interact with their inner experiences and find new ways to cope with uncertainties. The goal is to help individuals live a fulfilling, values-based life while embracing uncertainty.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT helps individuals become more aware of the rigid rules and beliefs related to perfectionism. Tools such as cost-benefit analysis can bring awareness to how their thinking patterns (e.g., all-or-nothing thinking) can affect their lives. Social skills and assertiveness training can aid those with perfectionism in improving their social interactions. Other interventions such as ERP, externalization of voices, and Socratic questioning are also implemented in the treatment process.

READ MORE ABOUT PERFECTIONISM

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"I highly recommend Kulliki. As a therapist and a mother, she is empathetic and warm, which helped me connect right away with her and share my story. When we met her, I had unresolved anger and grief at becoming a mother and losing my independence that were impacting my relationship with my husband. Kulliki helped me express these emotions while realizing I was judging myself too harshly and provided me with tools and strategies for the times when I felt falling down in a rabbit's hole of self-judgement. I was able to reconnect with my husband and regained confidence and acceptance as a woman, a mom and a professional."

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