Coaching for Perfectionism Disorder
People with perfection disorder believe that what they do is never good enough. While a moderate level of perfectionism can be positive, excessive perfectionism can lead to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression, among other mental health conditions. If you’re struggling with perfectionist disorder, coaching can help you manage your mental struggles.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of our lives, it’s easy to get caught up in the struggle to achieve perfection. Perfectionism is often perceived as a “nice-to-have” flaw, as it may describe a Type A individual with big ambitions and an overwhelming desire to do everything at peak performance.
However, perfectionism disorder is a highly destructive and maladaptive trait. It’s like having a critical person following you around all day, having something negative to say about everything you do.
Except you can’t get a restraining order on this person because it lives in your head. Perfectionism is a tricky beast to tame, but it’s possible with the right mindset and perhaps a little bit of help from a qualified life coach.
Coaching is a supportive and empowering process that can help individuals who struggle with perfectionism disorder overcome their tendencies and improve their mental health and well-being. Through coaching, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of their perfectionistic tendencies and develop more flexible and compassionate approaches to life.
In this article, we’ll discuss what perfection is, the symptoms of a perfectionist, and how coaching can help you overcome perfectionist disorder.
What is Perfectionism?
Perfectionism is a personality trait characterised by striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high-performance standards.
However, perfectionism is often accompanied by critical self-evaluation and feelings of disappointment and frustration when these high standards are not met. These unrealistic goals can lead to high levels of stress, and anxiety, and negatively impact a person’s well-being and success.
Perfectionism can sometimes reach a level of severity that may meet the criteria for a formal psychiatric disorder, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).
Here’s a short video about perfectionism.
Anxiety and Perfectionism Disorder Symptoms
The following are some symptoms that may indicate a perfectionism disorder:
- Constantly setting excessively high standards for oneself and others
- Being overly critical of oneself and others
- Procrastination due to fear of failure or not meeting high standards
- Difficulty completing tasks or projects because of an inability to reach perfection
- Persistent worry about making mistakes
- Difficulty relaxing and enjoying leisure activities
- Feelings of guilt, shame, or worthlessness when mistakes are made
- Avoidance of tasks or activities that have the potential to lead to imperfection
- Low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy
- Depression, anxiety, or burnout.
While striving for excellence can be positive, perfectionism can have negative impacts on mental health and well-being if it interferes with a person’s ability to function and enjoy life.
It’s important to seek professional help if you are experiencing persistent and distressing symptoms of perfectionism that are affecting your daily life and well-being.
Can a Coach Help with Perfectionist Disorder?
In short, yes. A coach can help with perfectionism. Coaches can work with individuals to identify and address the underlying causes of their perfectionism, such as low self-esteem or a fear of failure.
They can also help individuals develop coping strategies for managing their perfectionistic tendencies and strive for a healthy balance between striving for excellence and avoiding self-criticism or burnout.
How Can Coaching Help Manage Perfectionist Disorder?
Coaching can be a helpful tool in overcoming perfectionist tendencies and anxiety related to perfectionism.
Here are some steps that a coach may take to help manage perfectionism:
- Identify and challenge perfectionistic thoughts: A coach may help you identify and challenge perfectionistic thoughts that contribute to anxiety and other negative emotions.
- Set realistic goals: A coach may help you set achievable and realistic goals, rather than striving for perfection, which can help you feel more confident and in control.
- Learn relaxation techniques: A coach may teach you relaxation techniques, such as mindfulness and deep breathing, to help manage anxiety and stress.
- Practice self-compassion: A coach may help you develop self-compassion and learn to be kind and gentle with yourself, instead of being overly critical and harsh.
- Increase self-awareness: A coach may help you increase your self-awareness and gain a deeper understanding of the underlying motivations and beliefs that contribute to your perfectionistic tendencies.
- Embrace mistakes: A coach may help you embrace mistakes as opportunities for growth and learning, instead of fearing them as evidence of failure.
- Create a support network: A coach may help you create a support network of friends, family, and colleagues who can provide encouragement and understanding as you work to overcome perfectionism.
Overcoming perfectionism and anxiety related to perfectionism is a process that takes time and effort, but with the help of a coach and a commitment to change, it can be possible to reduce the impact of these tendencies on your life.
Benefits of Coaching for Perfectionist Disorder
1. Coaching can help you focus on the bigger picture
When we’re thinking of our goals, we tend to focus on the result—the perfect picture of how we want things to turn out. Then we do what we can to make that picture happen.
But if perfectionism is part of the equation, our view of that goal is so far from where we currently are that we don’t have much motivation to move forward because there’s still so much work left to be done. That’s when procrastination sets in, and we find ourselves stuck in quicksand, unable to move forward and unsure how to get out again.
Coaching can help you unlearn this pattern and break the cycle by shifting your mindset from sweating over every tiny detail to seeing the impact of the bigger picture.
Do you truly need to spend three extra hours polishing every presentation slideshow, or would it be better to focus on the message you aim to convey?
2. Coaching can help you set realistic standards
The problem with perfectionism is that it sets a standard that can’t be reached. You might think that the way to achieve your goals is to try and improve constantly, but when you are striving for perfection, you are never actually done.
There will always be another tweak, another change, and another iteration before something is considered finished. The more time and energy we spend on the small details of our work, the less time we have for significant things.
If this sounds like you, coaching can help with your perfection disorder. Coaches help you set realistic standards and give you the tools to get there.
3. Coaching can help you lower the pressure you put on yourself
You can struggle with a perfectionism disorder in many areas of life. In the office, it may mean that you work long hours on every project and still can’t seem to finish everything on your to-do list.
Your kitchen may look spotless at home, but you still picture the counters covered in dirty dishes and the floor strewn with toys. Perfectionists tend to feel guilty about the small things they’ve left undone, even if they spend time relaxing with their family or watching TV at night.
Looking for ways to escape from this never-ending cycle of guilt and discontent?
Luckily, there are many things you can do—some fast, some slow—to battle perfectionism and get a handle on your future self. A qualified and devoted life coach can help you practice self-acceptance instead of constantly beating yourself up over small things.
FAQs for Perfectionist Disorder
Perfectionism itself is not a recognised psychiatric disorder, but it can be a contributing factor to several mental health conditions, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), and eating disorders. In some cases, perfectionistic thoughts and behaviours can also contribute to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
While striving for excellence can be positive, excessive and rigid perfectionism can have negative impacts on mental health and well-being if it interferes with a person’s ability to function and enjoy life. If you are experiencing persistent and distressing symptoms of perfectionism, it’s advisable to seek professional help.
There are several models for categorising different types of perfectionism, but one widely recognized model is the three-dimensional model of perfectionism proposed by Hewitt and Flett.
This model describes three types of perfectionism:
1. Self-oriented perfectionism: This type of perfectionism involves setting excessively high standards for oneself and having overly critical self-evaluations. It can lead to feelings of disappointment and frustration when these standards are not met.
2. Other-oriented perfectionism: This type of perfectionism involves setting excessively high standards for others and having overly critical evaluations of others. It can lead to interpersonal conflicts and strained relationships.
3. Socially prescribed perfectionism: This type of perfectionism involves perceiving that others have excessively high expectations of themselves, leading to feelings of pressure and a need to meet these expectations. It can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.
The cause of perfectionism isn’t always clear but often is a learned behaviour. For example, pressures during a person’s education can bring out perfectionist behaviours by believing they’re only valuable through what they achieve.
1. Intense fear of making mistakes or being criticised
2. Obsessive thoughts or behaviours related to achieving perfection
3. Inability to perform tasks or make decisions without excessive planning and checking
4. Avoidance of tasks or activities due to fear of not being able to perform perfectly
5. Spending excessive time on trivial details or tasks to avoid making mistakes
6. Difficulty accepting compliments or positive feedback
7. High levels of anxiety, stress, or depression related to one’s pursuit of perfection
8. Impairment in daily functioning due to perfectionistic thoughts and behaviours
Whether being a perfectionist is a good thing depends on the individual and the context. In some cases, striving for excellence and setting high standards for oneself can lead to personal growth, achievement, and a sense of satisfaction. However, perfectionism can also have negative impacts on mental health and well-being if it becomes excessive and rigid.
Excessive perfectionism can lead to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and anxiety when high standards are not met, as well as interfere with the ability to complete tasks and enjoy leisure activities. It can also contribute to procrastination and a fear of taking risks, which can limit personal growth and potential.
Therefore, it’s important to find a balance between striving for excellence and being flexible and realistic in one’s expectations and standards. A moderate level of perfectionism can be positive, but it’s important to be aware of the potential negative impacts of excessive perfectionism and seek help if needed.
No, perfectionism is not classified as a mental illness but is a contributing factor to several mental health conditions, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), eating disorders, depression, and anxiety. In these cases, perfectionistic thoughts and behaviours can cause significant distress and interfere with daily functioning.
Summary of Coaching for Perfectionist Disorder
Coaching can be a valuable tool for individuals who struggle with perfectionism disorder. Through a combination of techniques and strategies, a coach can help you identify and challenge perfectionistic thoughts, set realistic goals, and develop a more compassionate and flexible approach to life.
While perfectionism itself is not a mental illness, it’s important to understand that excessive and rigid perfectionism can have negative impacts on mental health and well-being and to seek professional help if you are experiencing persistent and distressing symptoms.
Coaching can also help you increase self-awareness, build resilience, and learn coping skills to manage stress and anxiety related to perfectionism. With the support of a coach, it’s possible to reduce the impact of perfectionism on your life and increase your overall well-being and happiness.
It’s important to remember that overcoming perfectionism is a journey that takes time and effort, but with a commitment to change and a willingness to seek help, it can be possible to reduce the negative impacts of perfectionism on your life and achieve greater balance and fulfilment.
If you’d like to seek professional help regarding your perfectionist disorder, expert Stuart Downing is an online life coach who has helped hundreds of clients overcome their negative barriers. Get in touch with Stuart today.