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PERFECTIONISM

Many students struggle with perfectionism. Being a perfectionist can be one factor that has allowed students to be successful in areas of their life thus far. However, there can be a cost associated with it and sometimes it can lead to worse results.

For example, someone might believe that they must be involved in as many activities as possible to be a successful student. This could lead to them stretching themselves too thin. If someone is involved in TOO much, all of the areas of their life may suffer. Or there might be an emotional cost to the individual.

One of the difficult aspects of dealing with perfectionism is that it generally has worked in some ways for the student. Having experienced some success with this strategy can make people more reluctant to make changes, even when it begins to cost them both emotionally and in their work.

If you believe that you are a perfectionist and that there have not been many, if any, issues up to this point, you may decide that you do not have interest in changing your mindset. Others may be reluctant to make changes, but realize that their current approach is no longer sustainable.

STRATEGIES FOR PERFECTIONISM

Is what you are doing now working? Can you maintain it in the long run? If it feels like too much, what are your options for making changes? Imagine how it looks to maintain it for the foreseeable future.

What do you like about being a perfectionist? Try to create as long a list as you can. What do you dislike about it? Try to create another long list. Reflect on both and see if there are changes to be made.

For example, what would it be like if you were 90% the perfectionist you are now? What about 70% Would the lists look different? Would you still be successful in areas you want to succeed in? Sometimes people who are perfectionists think in absolutes and it can be helpful to examine shades of gray.

It can be helpful to take a step back and reflect on what advice you would give a friend if they were in a similar situation. Would you recommend that make any changes? What changes would you recommend? It can be easier to give advice to others than to give it to ourselves.

We are constantly narrating our personal experience and are often not accurate to what exactly is taking place. The tone of our narration, which is based on many factors, can directly influence our emotions and whether or not we are being perfectionists.

For example, if we are running late and there is unexpected traffic, we might tell ourselves “Oh no, I am going to be late. This has never happened to me and I can’t believe it. This is not my fault, but I should have left earlier just to be safe.”

Simply having that thought can lead to feeling anxious, meaning that it is based on your interpretation of the events as opposed to the events them selves. Self talk can play an important role in how we experience our emotions, so please feel free to check out our page dedicated to it.

THREE STRATEGIES TO TRY TODAY

Then write down what being 80% of a perfectionist would look like. Close your eyes and image doing those things.
What are three tips you would give them. Try those tips, if possible.
Identify two times that you put pressure on yourself, when you could have slightly softened your stance or changed your approach.

ONLINE ASSESSMENTS

If you are curious about learning more about being a perfectionist, you may find it helpful to take one or more of the following screenings or click here for our general online assessment screenings:

We also developed a COPE stress test to further guide you as well.

ADDITIONAL LINKS