Perfectionism Treatment In Sydney

What Is Perfectionism?

Perfectionism is a label we’re often quick to deny, but a habit we’re happy to embrace. However, if you start to think of perfectionism as a behaviour rather than a personality trait, then treatment can become a little less intimidating.

From this perspective, perfectionism is really about a desire to always do you best. The problem is that this noble goal can easily become a rigid rule that can actually impede performance.

When we adopt unrelenting standards we can become trapped as nothing ever seems good enough (often ourselves included). This means we might over-check emails, not leave the house without every hair in place, or keep writing that report well after the deadline has passed.

What Causes Perfectionism?

Perfectionism if often connected to a fear of making mistakes. We often worry that by making mistakes we might become less successful, likeable, or even less worthy.

While there are certain personality traits such as being more neurotic, conscientious and agreeable that can make you more predisposed to developing perfectionism, it’s by no means set in stone. What we need is these very normal personality traits to exist in an environment where we have been taught inflexible rules around performance and success.  

The Cycle Of Perfectionism

Perfectionism is a nasty habit as it tends to become cyclical. Let’s look at an example involving John at work. John has a report on his Sydney office’s performance that’s due in to his boss by the end of the week. He immediately starts to worry about it not being good enough and how the boss might react. This is a really unpleasant feeling for John to be in so he decides to try and avoid it by watching Youtube clips which makes him feel better. 

As the deadline gets even closer John feels increased pressure which makes him want to distract even more. Eventually the deadline arrives and John has done nothing resulting in the boss yelling at him and telling him to move onto the next task while he gets someone else to finish the report. John starts the next task but immediately worries about his boss yelling at him again. 

And so John finds himself back where he begun!

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Types Of Perfectionism

So just to do a back flip here, did you know types of perfectionism can sometimes actually be adaptive? But before you go and claim that you’re now justified to keep checking each email 30 times before sending it to your Nana, let’s look at the different types of perfectionism:

Self-oriented perfectionism – here’s the occasionally adaptive one. This type of perfectionism relates to a habit of setting unrealistic standards for yourself and focusing on failures in performance with a fair bit of self-scrutiny. People who also subscribe to the ideas of achievement striving and dutifulness can mobilise this type of perfectionism to be more resourceful and dutiful. However, these types of people are also at a greater risk of over-investing in their work or projects and not making time to care for themselves.

Socially-prescribed perfectionism – this refers to the perceived need to meet the standards and expectations of significant others in order to win approval. Unfortunately this form of perfectionism rarely boosts performance as these expectations were often fostered in a high critical environment and therefore it’s unlikely the creators of these expectations will ever be satisfied.

Other-oriented perfectionism – this refers to the tendency to have exaggerated expectations of others and to evaluate them critically. This is generally associated with a drive to compete rather than co-operate which tends to increase interpersonal conflict and subsequently damages relationships.

What Are The Signs Of Perfectionism?

Below are a few common signs of perfectionism. If these seem to reflect your experience then it may be worth considering getting treatment so that you can perform optimally in your day-to-day life in Sydney.

  • Excessive checking that you have not made any mistakes in a task
  • Continually trying to improve reports by redoing them
  • Spending too long completing tasks compared to other people
  • Agonising over small details
  • Making elaborate lists/plans
  • Being overly cautious in completing tasks
  • Chronic procrastination
  • Seeking frequent reassurance from people that you are “on the right track” with a task
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Avoiding any task you worry you might fail

Common Beliefs In Perfectionism?

  • You can always do better
  • I cannot make mistakes
  • Making mistakes never helps
  • I must be good at everything
  • There’s no point trying at something I can’t do perfectly
  • Less than 100% is a fail

If you notice these types of thoughts popping into your head frequently it’s a good sign that perfectionism might be holding you hostage.

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Types Of Treatment For Perfectionism

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): CBT aims to help you shift perfectionism by exploring the evidence and seeing if it actually is helping you perform. It often involves behavioural experiments to test out some of the common beliefs you might hold and find out if your current strategies are actually working.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): ACT approaches perfectionism by trying to help build flexibility in your thoughts and actions. This perspective holds that perfectionism is a result of being “fused” to beliefs that are preventing you from living a life in line with what matters.

Perfectionism Treatment Strategies To Get You Started In Sydney

Treatment for perfectionism isn’t about making you perform poorly, but rather about working out how much energy you need to put into a task to perform well. It’s about valuing success over perfectionism itself.

Mindfulness – Mindfulness allows you to learn to check in with your thoughts and feelings. As we saw back in the example with John, sometimes our feelings and perfectionist thoughts can drive us to avoid the very tasks we need to finish!

Mindfulness can take lots of different forms. The most well known is a seated meditation, but there are actually lots of exercises that your psychologist can introduce to you.

Check out our Perfectionism Treatment playlist to see if mindfulness can help you notice your thoughts and take back control to act the way you want.

You can also try some popular apps such as Headspace and Calm.

Challenging Thoughts – From a CBT point of view, treating perfectionism is all about creating new perspectives. Start by grabbing one of your frequent perfectionism thoughts. What we want to do next is explore the evidence.

By trying to objectively analyse the evidence both for and against a belief you can work out what’s realistic.

Our Top 10 Tips For Managing Perfectionism In Sydney

  1. Look at the pros/cons of being perfect
  2. Set sustainable and realistic goals
  3. Learn to allocate realistic time limits for tasks
  4. Try focusing on the task itself rather than the outcome
  5. Embrace mistakes so that you can learn from them
  6. Build flexibility in your thinking
  7. Ensure your life isn’t focused on just one area
  8. Check in with your time management skills
  9. Explore your broader values
  10. Test out those perfectionist habits
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Success is a wonderful feeling, but unfortunately perfectionism is rarely the way to get there. By starting to become aware of your own unrelenting standards you will have a chance to break the perfectionism cycle. This isn’t always easy to do on your own which is where a Clinical Psychologist can help.

Treating perfectionism starts with making a choice that you want to change. Talk to your Doctor or Clinical Psychologist about the options that are available to help move towards success in a sustainable way. 

Don’t forget to check out our other toolbox guides as well to help you on your way towards living the life you want to live.  

Start Treating Your Perfectionism With Cadence Psychology In Sydney

If you’re interested in getting treatment for perfectionism in Sydney then we’d love to hear from you. Cadence Psychology provides sessions with Medicare rebates meaning you can start getting affordable help today.

Contact us today to schedule a free intake call and see how we can best help you. You can call us on 0478 876 678 or leave us a message using the contact form below.