Have you ever set the standards so high that they are either hardly achievable or impossible? In addition, did you feel like a failure if you did not meet those high expectations? If you answered positively on the previous questions, you may be a Perfectionist. It is important to distinguish perfectionism from high standards. There is nothing wrong with setting up high standards. It is actually a great personality trait. However, it is important to set up those standards realistically. Perfectionists tend to set up unrealistic, almost impossible goals. Perfectionists have zero tolerance for failure and are very self-critical. If they fail to meet their goals, they consider it a complete disaster. Even when they succeed, Perfectionists are not truly happy. They always believe they could have done it better. They tend to think with an “all or nothing” attitude. It is also known as black-and-white thinking (e.g. “If I ask others for help, I am weak.”) But the good news is, CBT for perfectionism is very effective.

What is the treatment for Perfectionism?

The goal of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is to understand and make change with thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that are causing the problem.

That being said, the first step towards change is to become aware of perfectionism. Through various techniques, CBT detects the irrational thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors and tries to replace them with more rational versions. CBT for perfectionism helps clients realize when something is truly good enough and more satisfying than chasing impossible goals. It is important for perfectionists to give themselves permission to make mistakes. No one is perfect. Thus, for Perfectionists, it is good to practice not being perfect. It helps them come to the realization that CBT tries to work on the following areas:

Learn to Recognize Perfectionism:

  • Detect unhelpful thoughts, beliefs and behaviors
  • Engage in balanced thinking
  • Avoid procrastination
  • Learn to reward yourself
  • Learn to function as a high achiever rather than as a perfectionist
  • Occasionally dare to be average!

And just remember:

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually afraid you will make one.”– Elbert Hubbard