Being addicted to perfectionism might not sound like the worst thing you could be addicted to, and maybe it’s not. It seems like perfectionism could be beneficial to an extent in certain areas of life. But the cost may be much steeper than you realize.
Perfectionism is defined as the refusal to accept any standard short of perfection. There’s nothing wrong with a desire to get something right, the trouble comes when you find your peace or relief in accomplishing perfection. When you are never satisfied with anything short of perfection or when lack of perfection, or the way you decide something should be (your standards), makes you feel terrible, off-kilter, or even angry.
Mentally and emotionally, there are deep reasons for each individual who struggles with perfectionism. It can cause turmoil in your life and lead to burnout, depression, anxiety, broken relationships, and more.
8 Signs that you may be addicted to perfectionism:
- You’re a control freak: It feels perfect if you’re in control of it. Not necessarily because you can do anything better than anyone else, simply because you feel better if the control is in your hands. You may feel elevated levels of stress when you’re not in control.
- You can’t control the urge to perfect things: you may feel like you literally cannot let something go until it’s perfect. Even if it’s driving other people (or you) crazy that you won’t let it go.
- You find perfection exhilerating: it’s thrilling to you to acheive perfection. It might feel like the most satisfying thing to you when something ends up the way you think it should.
- Your need for perfection is frustrating to others: you’re so intent on meeting your standards that it’s annoying to other people. Sometimes it may make the people close to you angry.
- You’re an expert at justifying your need for perfection: no matter how little sense it makes to other people, you have plenty of reasons or excuses for your need for perfection.
- Stress exhasperates your need for perfection: your need for perfection may kick into it’s highest gear when you are stressed or worried about something.
- The relief from achieving your level of perfection is only temporary: as soon as something meets your standards you may need to move to the next thing that needs your attention to continue to feel satisfied.
- Imperfection causes you to feel anxious or uncomfortable: you may feel guilt or shame for something being imperfect and you may make excuses for why they aren’t. You may also feel the “I can’t wait to get my hands on that” urge.
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Like any addiction, seeing that it may be a problem for you is the first step. Our awareness of anything is the beginning of changing that thing. Addiction of any kind is just a coping mechanism for our fear or discomfort. We do things that make ourselves feel better, more comfortable. Unfortunately, some of the things we do to feel better can be destructive in the long term even if they feel good in the short term.
The next step after you acknowledge your need for perfection is just to continue to acknowledge it. Ask people close to you to kindly help point out when you may be going overboard. You will need gentle nudging and patience from yourself and others to start recognizing and changing the behavior. When you notice it, simply try to redirect yourself to something else. Do this over and over and you’ll keep getting better at it.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.– Galatians 2:20
You may currently be addicted to perfectionism, but you also have the power to overcome because Jesus loves you and gave himself for you. He doesn’t expect perfection. Instead, he offers grace, forgiveness, and guidance. Rely on Him to guide you and strengthen you through this process.