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MASTERING Perfection: The Top 5 Causes of Perfectionism

I'll admit it. As I sit down to write this article, I am realizing why it took me so long: I am a recovering perfectionist. And what's more is that I'm not even sure I'm as far into my recovery as I thought I was. Sure, I can blame the busy day I had or the "right timing" but the truth is.....I wanted this article and the corresponding podcast episode to be....well....PERFECT. So, I procrastinated. There I said it!

Now that that's off of my chest, let me get back to something you can actually use. My confession is exactly why I'm writing this and getting to the bottom of perfectionism. What is it? Where does it come from? How do we perpetuate it? As I mentioned before, if you're already a perfectionist, the healthiest thing to do is harness it because, let's face it, you're a high achiever at heart! One of the best ways to harness a habit is to know where it comes from.


Here are the top 5 sources of perfectionism:


1. Personality Traits

Now you if you've been following the series on the podcast, you know how I feel about categorizing personality traits. But, for educational purposes, I'll state what I researched. Personality traits such as hyper-vigilance or self discipline can create a deep desire for perfect performance in order to feel worthy. And, if not addressed, perfectionism.


2. Childhood

I will say, this was the hardest to write about because I'm a big family person and it hurts me deeply to blame family for anything. Especially one as loving as mine. But it's true, demanding or critical parents can (over time) create a desire to be perfect. Also, it's important to know (for any parents reading) that being excessively praised for achievements can create the idea that love and appreciation comes only from achieving and, therefore, creates a perfectionist.


3. Fear of Failure

This one held me hostage for a while too. I've become much more aware now but I used to completely entertain spiraling. In fact, (though more of a fired up, motivational chat) I just had a spiraling session on the phone with my sister today LOL shout out to Esther for slowing me down! Spiraling thoughts or catastrophic thinking can create a need for perfection thus, over time creating a perfectionist mindset.


4. Society and Culture

A society and/or culture that normalizes achievement, success, and comparison creates a line full of perfectionists. We are now in a time where social media is UNAVOIDABLE. We literally use social media for everything; to communicate, to date, to stream, to get news AND to find and climb in our work. And these days, let's face it, we all need to work.....at something. In my opinion and with that being said, social media has us over exposed to other people's lives and not just their lives, the perfect edited version of their lives.....hour after hour....after hour. Even with social platforms that DO show real scenarios, they're mostly shown in a negative way that tells you what NOT to do. With that, we overly expose ourselves to comparison, which causes.....you guessed it! Perfectionism.


5. High Pressure Environments

Now this one got me because, I truly believe that pressure creates diamonds, so my genuine reaction to this suggestion was "What's wrong with pressure?!" But the problem is, having long term exposure to environments where you're constantly on tight deadlines or micromanaged can cause a person to become a perfectionist. Who knew?!


The main takeaway from this portion of our journey through perfectionism is to know who's measurement of perfection you are following.....and if you're ok with that. It's not necessary to excessively condemn your environments such as your past, your boss, or your loved ones because the power and knowledge is in your hands now! It's also worth noting that mild exposure to these environments is not the same as long-term exposure. Remember, you can use this habit in the right places and for good. Also, though possibly easier said that done, it's worth noting that it is perfectly fine to appear imperfect to someone outside of yourself, as long as you're meeting your own standards.


Check out the podcast episode on this topic and share this information with a loved one!







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