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The Psychology of Perfectionism

Are you a perfectionist?

If you answered “yes”, does this desire for ‘perfection’ serve you?

What I mean by that is, does it help advance you towards your goals and motivate you to perform? Or, does it get in the way of you being your best self?

For most of the women I speak with, they say that their perfectionism completely gets in the way of them being able to progress. It either paralyses them out of a fear of failure, makes them continually beat themselves up when they don’t reach the impossibly high standards they set for themselves, or makes them unhappy because they’re never satisfied.

This is called ‘neurotic’ perfectionism. It’s where you have exceedingly high personal standards of performance, and then you beat yourself up when you inevitably don’t achieve them. It involves being extremely self-critical in how you evaluate yourself.

But get this - we know from research that there’s actually a second form of perfectionism - a healthy kind - which is described as ‘adaptive perfectionism’.

The primary difference is that with adaptive perfectionism, while you still hold yourself to high standards, you don’t beat yourself up if you don’t achieve them.

It’s been a long journey for me to move from neurotic perfectionism to adaptive perfectionism (which I prefer to call ‘striving for excellence’), and when you start to notice the shift, your entire perspective changes. You feel more powerful and capable, more confident and content.

On 17 March 2021, I hosted a room on Clubhouse.

In it, I explore:

  • What the psychology research tells us about Perfectionism & how it gets in the way of us being our best selves,

  • The two dimensions of Perfectionism (it’s not always bad!), and

  • My favorite evidence-based strategies to help you overcome it!


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