Therapy for Perfectionism
Do You Feel Unable To Live Up To Your Expectations?
Is perfectionism holding you back from enjoying life? Are you dissatisfied with your performance in work, school, or sports? Do you find yourself obsessing over cultural ideas of beauty and success?
You might be struggling with increased stress and strain on your relationships. Perhaps you’re frequently disappointed by other people because they don’t seem to work as hard as you. Sometimes you may feel jealous and resentful—everyone else seems to get by without putting in much time or effort. It might take you much longer to complete tasks because you’re always second-guessing yourself and redoing things. This could lead to burnout and exhaustion.
You Might Not Even Know Your Expectations Are Unrealistic
When you’re dealing with perfectionism, it’s easy to live life without questioning the standards you hold yourself to. When you fail to live up to them, you might think the problem is you, not your standards. You may not even know your expectations are too high.
Therapy for perfectionism can help you look at what’s behind your expectations and learn to like yourself as you are. Here at Back to Balance Counseling, our goal is to help you be okay with doing your best instead of having to be perfect.
Perfectionism: The Symptom Of A World Hung Up On The Social Media Scroll
Let’s face it: it’s all too easy to get caught up in the social media scroll, which can prompt the idea that happiness is owning a huge house, having millions of Instagram followers, and looking like a supermodel with zero effort. Social media is littered with influencers who make it look easy. Their lives are a constant highlight reel of expensive vacations and gorgeous selfies. Little wonder, then, that so many of us hold ourselves to unrealistic standards and feel inadequate by comparison.
But here’s the kicker that most of us don’t consider: these celebrities and beauty gurus often spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to look the way they do. When you take away all the glitz and glam, most of them aren’t much different than you and I. So the standard they set is not just unrealistic but actually impossible to reach—we couldn’t live up to it even if we tried.
Our Workaholic Culture Encourages Perfectionism And Lack Of Work-Life Balance
Sometimes the standards that our culture sets for us are not just far-fetched, but downright unhealthy. Many self-help books glorify a lack of work-life balance. Surf social media and you’re bound to encounter some influencer encouraging you to work three full-time jobs and not have fun in your 20s. Lots of people internalize this mindset and believe they’re supposed to work themselves into oblivion.
All this does is make the battle with perfectionism worse. It makes us unable to pause, relax, and live in the moment. Counseling is a chance to let go of unhealthy expectations and make time for self-care.
Therapy Can Help You Overcome Perfectionism And Like Yourself As You Are
A lot of people strive for perfection without asking themselves why they want it. What is perfect? Whose idea of perfection is it? And how would you know if you actually achieved it?
These are questions that we can explore together in therapy. Oftentimes, the desire for perfection is driven by some type of fear—fear of not being successful, fear that people won’t like you, fear that you’ll be seen as an imposter, etc. Your counselor can help you process what you’re afraid of and how it’s interfering with your life. You will learn to recognize unhelpful thinking patterns, challenge irrational thoughts, and love yourself in a deeper way.
Tailoring Your Treatment Plan
The main approaches we use for perfectionism counseling are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Both are empirically-supported forms of therapy that focus on helping clients change their behavioral patterns and break out of maladaptive coping mechanisms.
CBT can help you articulate your emotional goals and make them a reality. For instance, let’s say your goal is to be less consumed by your desire to look flawless. The only way to make that emotional goal come to fruition is to make it a behavioral goal. In other words, if you wanted to worry less, what would you be doing instead? In this way, CBT allows you to understand the connection between your thoughts and your actions.
ACT, on the other hand, is all about accepting the things you can’t change and focusing on your values instead. So much of life is spent trying to fix or get rid of something—it’s part of human nature. ACT can help you live based on your values rather than trying so hard to feel good or erase discomfort. You will learn to stick to a path of what’s truly important to you, whether that’s compassion, creativity, honesty, or something else.
If we looked at the amount of distress you’re experiencing right now, is it fair to say that holding perfectionistic standards isn’t working for you? We believe you owe it to yourself to try something different. Working with a therapist can help you move beyond a mindset of perfectionism and accept yourself for who you are.
You May Have Some Questions About Therapy For Perfectionism…
What if I let people down by not trying so hard anymore?
The people close to you would probably love to see you be able to relax a bit more and be your authentic self. After all, people probably aren’t holding you to the same standard that you hold yourself to. Think about it: when someone makes a mistake, do you judge them harshly and hold onto that judgment for weeks or months afterward? Probably not. We encourage you to have the same compassion on yourself.
I’m worried that I don’t have time for therapy.
If you were to add up all the time you spend overthinking or redoing things, chances are it would amount to more than an hour each week. We feel like you owe it to yourself to give up an hour a week to focus on self-care. What’s more, therapy can help you cut back on the amount of time you spend worrying and feeling stressed. By reducing your perfectionistic tendencies, you can have more time to enjoy your life and live free from unhealthy expectations.
I feel like my perfectionism pushes me to do my best.
Maybe your perfectionism motivates you, but it sounds like it’s not motivating you in a healthy way. Therapy is a time to think about healthy and unhealthy uses of motivation. Our goal is not to discourage you from trying your best, but to help you achieve a better work-life balance. You can do your best without burning out and running yourself ragged. It’s all about finding the right balance.
You Can Live Free From Unrealistic Expectations
If you’re a perfectionist who wants to relax your standards and make more room for self-love, we encourage you to pursue therapy with us. Let’s catch up for an intake call.