Perfectionism is a set of self-defeating thought patterns that push you to achieve unrealistic goals. In his book, "The Pursuit of Perfect," Dr Tal Ben-Shahar explains that there are two types of perfectionism: adaptive and maladaptive.

Adaptive perfectionism: Is often described as “excellence seeking”. These people want to develop their skills continually. Their standards are always rising, and they approach work with optimism, pleasure and a desire to improve. Although, this may seem like a “healthy” form of perfectionism, it is not without it’s problems.

Maladaptive perfectionism: Is often described as “failure avoiding”. These people report never feeling satisfied with what they achieve and, if something isn’t perfect, they dismiss it. They may experience fear of failure, anxiety, unhappiness, and other painful emotions.

It has been suggested that the latter has many more negative effects than excellence- seeking perfectionism, though research suggests that neither forms improved performance. It concluded that perfectionism isn’t a useful approach at all.

Adults are not alone in the experience of perfectionism. Children and adolescents who display perfectionist behaviour set unreasonably high standards for themselves. They strive to complete most, if not all, tasks perfectly with little tolerance for mistakes. As a result, these children become distressed when they believe they have not achieved their self-imposed high standard. Perfectionism in children can lead to chronic feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

What are the symptoms?

Some common types of perfectionist behaviours include:

  • High, unrealistic goals
  • Struggling to make decisions in a timely manner
  • Reassurance seeking
  • Excessive organisation and list making
  • Giving up easily
  • Procrastinating or spending excessive time planning or redoing work to make it “perfect”
  • Overly concerned with what other people think about them and believe their flaws may lead to rejection
  • Don’t handle criticism or feedback well
  • Avoiding situations in which they may “fail”
  • Find it difficult to delegate tasks to others

How we can help you...

We can help you to identify perfectionistic and unhelpful thinking styles and behaviours that are impacting you. Then together we can work on self defeating thinking and unrealistic expectations you may set for yourself or others.

Some of the therapies our psychologists at Thriving Minds Psychology Clinic may use include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, Psychodynamic Therapy, Trauma-focused therapy, Schema Therapy, or Solution-Focused Therapy.

If you would like to arrange an appointment to discuss any concerns or symptoms with one of our experienced therapists at Thriving Minds Psychology Clinic please call us on P: 0428 088 671.

Are you ready to take the next step?

We are dedicated to redefining your experience of therapy. Our client support team is available to support you with questions and enquiries. Booking your appointment is easy, call us on 0428 088 671 or book online by following the link below