Do you have a drive that sets you apart from everyone else? Do you set goals for yourself and refuse to sleep until you meet these goals? Perfectionism is something that people either let run their lives or embrace and use it as a tool to improve the quality of their life. Considering that “perfect” is something that is different for everyone and unobtainable, how could it ever be something useful?
There are two types of perfectionism that have been studied when implicating with mental health- positive perfectionism and negative perfectionism. The strive to be the best is something that our society instills in us instilled in us from day one, the main factor being who’s best are you trying to be?
There are different types of perfectionism, and not all of them cause a decline in your mental health. There is positive perfectionism, which is when you understand your limits, set appropriate goals, and having realistic thinking. This is the type of perfectionism that has shown to have a positive impact on one’s mental health.
When you have this outlook on life, you gain a sense of accomplishment more often because you are setting goals that can be met. You aren’t focused on what other people are doing; it’s just you and the work. Studies show that people with depression have lower scores in positive perfection, which may be a reason that not feeling good enough is a common symptom.
Then there is negative perfectionism. This is when you set goals too high and can’t reach them, and your self-esteem and confidence lower because of it. This is when you always compare your works to others, making your limitations not factor into your progress.
This kind of thinking can make you feel like you are always missing the mark or that you are never good enough. This type of thinking can make you want to give up because you will never meet the outlandishly high standards that you yourself have set. Studies suggest that people with anxiety have higher scores in negative perfectionism, which may contribute to the constant fear of failure.
A study was conducted that tested the level of self-esteem and depression in adolescents in high school and their personal standards. They found that as the levels of depression went down and self-esteem went up, the personal standards increased. When their personal standards weren’t met, depression increased, and self-esteem decreased.
Balance is critical in every way of living. If you have low standards for yourself, yes it will be easier to meet your goals, but your quality of life will remain the same. High standards are what separates the successful from the ordinary, but finding that balance of high standards that don’t knock you down is the trick.
It is so very important that you keep your standards within your own reality. If you find that you are leaning towards the negative perfectionism, set small goals for yourself at home. Practice satisfying the need for accomplishment.
At work, set a list of goals that you know you can accomplish, no matter how small. Learn what your limits are and don’t focus so much on everyone else because you can do your best, and your best is good enough. Once you have mastered the personal standard you have set, then it’s time to reach a little higher, but don’t overdo it. You don’t want to end up back to feeling like you can’t get anything done.
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