Counseling Services

University Life & Services | Leading the Experience

University Life & Services

ULS

Preventing Perfectionism

Introduction

Going through life as a perfectionist will always damage your self-esteem and strip you of any warm feelings of self- acceptance you may have for yourself. That's because the impossibly high demands you make of yourself--and the unrealistic expectations you place on others--will invite only disappointment, self-repudiation, and widespread unhappiness.

Prevent Perfectionism

Living your life as a perfectionist will also set you up for continuous rejection and self-putdowns--and deny you peace of mind--because demanding perfection usually results in failure. And even if you achieve an exceptional result, chances are that you'll still be unhappy, as you'll find additional reasons for not being good enough. That's the destructive nature of perfectionism and that's why it destroys self-esteem. Nothing is ever good enough.

Remember, being a perfectionist may paralyze your future chances of success--in either your personal or your professional life--because you'll eventually fear taking any new actions that might produce an imperfect result. Preventing perfectionism begins by saying no to unreasonably high demands that produce only failure and self-contempt. The new way of thinking requires you to choose goals that are easier to achieve and are within the realm of your possibilities. Moderate your expectations--and stop focusing on faults and flaws--and then watch your performance and self-esteem soar.

Briefly describe one situation or part of your life in which you would like to be less perfectionistic. What are some specific ways that you could moderate your goals in that particular situation/area? What consequences might follow from such changes?

Power of Failure

Failure is a teacher and can be the source of much personal growth. Experiencing failure--and learning to judge your own capabilities--demonstrates that you have the strength to accept life's challenges. Never condemn yourself for not succeeding. That's being unfair to yourself. See failure for what it really is: an opportunity to discover that future success lies in another strategy or direction. You will achieve your next goal if you learn from your past mistakes. In this section, describe how and what you have learned from some past "failures".

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." -- Helen Keller


Copyright - Counseling Services, State University of New York at Buffalo
Counseling Services | 120 Richmond Quad | University at Buffalo | Buffalo, NY 14261-0053 | Tel: (716) 645-2720 or 829-5800 | Fax: (716) 645-2175 | Director: Sharon Mitchell | E-Mail: