Clients often struggle with being “perfect,” and understanding how striving to be perfect actually reduces performance and simultaneously leads to avoidant coping responses. Perfectionism also leads to obsessive compulsive behavior, eating disorders, and depression.
Perfectionists may have beliefs that their worth is based solely on appearance, career success, and/or academic stress. Dichotomous thinking (e.g., A’s are acceptable, B’s are failing), self- criticism rather than self-compassion, comparison statements, engaging in checking behaviors, and avoiding feedback are common characteristics of clinical perfectionists.
To work on reducing perfectionistic standards may not necessarily result in changing your standards (when they are attainable and realistic) but rather include more compassion and kindness. Other goals of treatment are reducing self-criticism, inflexibility, creating goals that are not performance based, and learning to define the self by using multiple domains rather than one domain (e.g., shape/appearance).