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  • Steven Sutton, LCSW

How To Tell If You Are a Perfectionist

Updated: Sep 16, 2020

Are you a perfectionist? If you're someone who talks yourself out of doing things because of all the ways it could go wrong, then you might be.

Perfectionists live much of their life in their minds, running scenarios of what things are going to be like. We have an idea that perfectionism means when a person does something they have to keep working at until it's just right. More often, real perfectionists never get started because they've figured out all the reasons doing something won't meet their idea of a perfect outcome. They preview every outcome by making movies in their mind. They avoid doing things that they can't assure themselves will go according to plan. This way of thinking is a heavy burden on those who do it. They may have such a long standing habit of thinking this way that they don't notice the toll it's taking on several important areas of their life:

  • They have a much harder time enjoying themselves or relaxing

  • They miss out on potentially rewarding life activities

  • They stifle intimacy in their most important relationships

  • They avoid commitments that might help them accomplish goals

  • They procrastinate while they try to think their way to solutions

Being at peace with a wide range of outcomes is a powerful life skill and one that can be learned. Taking action, even without a guarantee of success, opens a person's life to joy, adventure, and connection with other people. I know that sounds good, but learning to do it if you're a person who's been living in their mind, is a complex process. Don't worry though, it can be done! 

If you're looking for a challenge, consider coaching yourself to resist the urge to base decisions on your mental movie making. Instead, get clear about what is most important to you and decide what you can do next to manifest it. Just focus on what you would do next to move closer to the experience you want to have. Resist the urge to figure out how the whole thing is going to play out. Don't spend energy on making that movie. Getting clear about who you are, your values, and what you most want is a critical first step. If you want guidance, please contact me!

Consider focusing on, "What is the next best thing for me to do?" If you think you have a problem with procrastination, sign up for our next Growing Out of Procrastination online course

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