- 1. Let’s Define Perfectionism
- 1. Let’s Define Perfectionism
- 2. Perfectionism and Anxiety, Plus Other Mental Health Consequences
- 3. Perfectionism and Anxiety, Which Comes First?
- 4. Perfectionism and Anxiety, Can They Work against Each Other?
- 5. Managing Perfectionism and Anxiety
- 6. Long-Term Consequences
On the face of it, to most perfection is it may seem to be a good thing. Aren’t we all taught from childhood to strive to be the best we can be? If we draw the prettiest picture in school, are the quickest to finish a race, or get a prize in science, we win the applause of friends and the adoration of our family. However, for psychologists and counsellors, striving to be the best or perfectionism isn’t as rosy as it sounds. Sometimes, underneath our perfectionism is a deep fear for making mistakes, worries about failure and thoughts about not being good enough. In this article, we are going to explore the link between perfectionism and anxiety.
Most of us know the link between perfectionism and another well known mental health issue, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, we speak less about the connection between perfectionism and anxiety. How are perfectionism and anxiety connected? Do you need one to have the other? Finally, what are some of the long-term consequences of having both perfectionism and anxiety? We hope to answer some of those questions in this article. We also have a six-week course on perfectionism which you can find on our courses page at Epsychonline.
Let’s Define Perfectionism
Perfectionism and Anxiety, Plus Other Mental Health Consequences
Let’s think about some other situations where perfectionism can lead to anxiety. Perfectionism can show up anywhere. Wanting to excel can come up at work, school, sports, public speaking, appearance, cleanliness and a host of other areas. For whatever reason, if perfectionists expectations or standards are not met. It will lead to frustration, sadness, shame or feelings of unworthiness. There is a sense of all or nothing when it comes to perfectionism. As you can imagine, this intern can lead to anxiety and depression.
Of concern is a link between perfectionism and suicide. As we discussed, perfectionists tend to be self-critical. They often have high expectations of themselves. If they are unable to succeed, they carry deep shame and dissatisfaction. Researchers are looking into the link between perfectionism and suicide.
Perfectionism and Anxiety, Which Comes First?
On the other hand, anxiety is associated with repetitive worry, uncertainty and stress. It is not uncommon for someone who is anxious to focus on one particular aspect of their lives, such as cooking or their work. To manage or reduce their anxiety, they may adopt some perfectionistic beliefs or where is operating. In fact, research shows people diagnosed with anxiety tend to display more perfectionistic traits.
When it comes to perfectionism and anxiety, it’s hard to tell which came first. If you are someone who experiences both perfectionism and anxiety, think back to your teenage or even younger years. If you or someone you knew were to describe you back then, would they have felt you were more a perfectionist or more an anxious young person?
Perfectionism and Anxiety, Can They Work against Each Other?
Managing Perfectionism and Anxiety
Let’s take cognitive behavioural therapy as an example. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is probably the most commonly used psychotherapy mode. It helps people understand the links The core beliefs, thoughts, feelings and behaviour. CBT can be used to breakdown on helpful thinking styles, constructively challenge them and replace some of those and helpful perfectionistic thoughts with more balanced and helpful ones. Psychologists use behavioural experiments and other techniques to move people with perfectionistic mindsets into more healthy ways of managing their lives.
Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is another treatment that psychologists use when helping people manage that perfectionism.
Here, at Epsychonline, we have a psychologist written course on perfectionism that uses both CBT and ERP techniques.