Perfectionism and anxiety - A vicious cycle
There is nothing wrong with trying your best or wanting to achieve high standards of performance. When the pursuit of excellence becomes a struggle for perfectionism, however, the costs are clearly evident. Perfectionism, the need to avoid errors, criticism, or disappointment from others, takes its toll on our health and well-being. Perfectionists are vulnerable to excessive anxiety, worry and have an inability to relax, often resulting in sleep disorders, physical ailments and/or depression, all of which can cause more anxiety.
Many people who strive for perfectionism consistently delay starting a task because of fear that the outcome will not be perfect. Unfortunately, procrastination only serves to fuel more anxiety. Another common characteristic of a perfectionist is having difficulty determining when tasks are completed to their satisfaction, not knowing when they need to stop, despite having invested tremendous time and energy. This continual dissatisfaction with the result leads to further anxiety, frustration, fatigue and eventually exhaustion.
Fear of failure or rejection and fear of disapproval or criticism are what underlie much of the anxiety surrounding perfectionism. A perfectionist will often perceive a mistake as evidence of unworthiness and become overly defensive when criticised. Risks associated with error or imperfection are often blown out of proportion, leading to disproportionate levels of anxiety and stress. Those who strive for excellence in a healthy way take genuine pleasure in trying to meet high standards. Many perfectionists, on the other hand, are unable to feel joyful about their accomplishments, being highly self-critical and harbouring feelings of self-doubt and anxiety.
If you are struggling with anxiety and perfectionism you may find it helpful to see a hypnotherapist. Hypnotherapy helps an individual to relax and to regain control of their mind. Through hypnosis, negative thought patterns, beliefs and behaviours can be changed into positive thoughts and actions, thereby reducing fear and anxiety and building confidence and self-assurance.
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About Carolyn Spiller
Carolyn Spiller is a solution focused hypnotherapist and psychotherapist, specialising in helping clients with anxiety, self-esteem and confidence. She practises in South Wales, in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.