Overcoming Perfectionism Powerpoint for information

Download 12.2 Kb.
Size12.2 Kb.
  • Overcoming Perfectionism
  • Powerpoint for information –
  • workshop will not be directly using this material
  • Ohemaa Nkansa-Dwamena
  • LSE Student Counselling Service


  • Examine difficulties with perfectionism
  • Identify the causes and how it develops
  • Explore common myths and thinking errors
  • Identify strategies to overcome it
  • Review sources of help


  • What is perfectionism?

Are you a perfectionist?

  • Do you feel like what you accomplish is never quite good enough?
  • Do you often put off handing in papers or projects, waiting to get them just right?
  • Do you feel you must give more than 100% on everything you do or else you will be mediocre or even a failure?
  • Are you working toward success or trying to be perfect - too perfect!

What is perfectionism?

  • Self-defeating thoughts and behaviours associated with high ideals, not realistic goals.
  • Often mistakenly seen as desirable or even necessary for success.
  • Recent studies show that perfectionist attitudes actually interfere with success.
    • The desire to be perfect can deny you a sense of satisfaction and cause you to achieve far less than people with more realistic goals.

Key Elements

  • Your expectations of yourself
  • Your expectations of others
  • Others expectations of you

Causes of perfectionism

  • If you are a perfectionist, it is likely that you learned early in life that you were mainly valued for your achievements.
  • You may have learned to value yourself only on the basis of other people's approval.
  • Your self-esteem may be based primarily on external standards.
  • This can leave you vulnerable and sensitive to the opinions and criticism of others.
  • To protect yourself you may decide that being perfect is your only defence.

Negative thoughts and feelings

  • • Fear of failure.
  • • Fear of making mistakes.
  • • Fear of disapproval.
  • • All-or-nothing thinking.
  • • Over-emphasis on ‘should’, ‘must’ and ‘ought’.
  • • Never being good enough.

How does it develop?

  • Early experiences
    • parents’ expectations
    • rewards and reinforcements
    • punishments
    • modelling behaviour and information
  • Assessment of worth – ‘I am stupid’
  • Strategies to manage it ‘I must achieve the highest standards or be a complete failure’

How is it maintained?

  • Current triggers – eg exams, presentations
  • Negative predictions – ‘I may not do it well/ others will think I am stupid
  • Unhelpful behaviours,
    • eg avoidance of writing, constant checking
  • Confirming our negative beliefs
  • Self Critical thoughts – ‘I’ve failed again’
  • Depression and low mood

Vicious circle

  • Set an unreachable goal.
  • Fail, as the goal was impossible to begin with.
  • Constant pressure to achieve perfection and inevitable chronic failure reduces your effectiveness.
  • This leads you to be self critical and self-blaming, which can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety and depression.
  • At this point you may give up completely on your original goal and set yourself another unrealistic goal, thinking "This time if only I try harder I will succeed".

4 common myths with perfectionism

  • You can’t succeed without it
  • It gets you the best results
  • It enables you to overcome obstacles
  • It helps you achieve and please others

Myth 1: I wouldn’t be the success I am if I weren't such a perfectionist

  • No evidence that perfectionists are more successful, more likely the reverse!
  • Success may be achieved despite compulsive striving.

Myth 2: Perfectionists get things done and they do things right.

  • Procrastination, missed deadlines, low productivity
  • Small tasks become overwhelming
  • Agonizing over non-critical details.

Myth 3: Perfectionists are determined to overcome all obstacles to success

  • Can’t concentrate on the process of getting the task done.
  • Writer’s block
  • Depression and anxiety.

Myth 4: Perfectionists just have this enormous desire to please others

  • Relationships become complicated
  • Achievers are willing to make mistakes and risk failure.
  • Imperfection is part of being human.

What can I do about it?

  • Realize that perfectionism is undesirable
    • perfection is an illusion that is unattainable.
  • Challenge self-defeating thoughts and behaviours that fuel perfectionism.
  • Cost benefit analysis of keeping high standards
  • Identify goals – general and specific – to be less perfectionistic

Challenging Perfectionism - I

  • Identify negative/ faulty thoughts
  • List possible alternatives
  • Consider the positive and negative of the original and alternative thoughts
  • Choose a more realistic way to view the situation or that fuel perfectionism.

Recording thoughts and feelings

  • Situation
  • Emotion Intensity
  • (Rate 0 -10)
  • Perfectionistic beliefs and interpretations
  • Alternative thoughts
  • Rewriting an essay
  • Anxiety – 5 Frustration - 7
  • If I don’t get each sentence right, my tutor will think I’m stupid
  • They are more concerned with my ideas than each sentence
  • Rewriting an essay
  • Anxiety – 8
  • I have to know everything or else people will see me as a useless failure

Challenging Perfectionism - II

  • Exposure based strategies
  • Stopping negative actions (eg constant checking, rewriting)
  • Communication
    • Being assertive
    • Listening and paying attention to non verbal communication
  • Effective Prioritising
  • Overcoming Procrastination

Strategies to move forward – I

  • Set realistic and reachable goals
  • Set subsequent goals in a sequential manner
  • Experiment with your standards for success. Try for 80% or even 60%
  • Focus on the process of doing an activity not just the end result.
  • Evaluate success in terms of what you accomplished and whether you enjoyed the task.

Strategies to move forward - II

  • Check your feelings. Monitor feelings of anxiety and depression.
    • "Have I set up impossible expectations for myself in this situation?"
  • Face your fears that may be behind your perfectionism by asking yourself
  • Celebrate your mistakes
    • "What can I learn from this experience?"


  • Look after yourself (diet, sleep)
  • Keep a supportive structure for
  • your daily life; have relaxation time
  • See writing as a time of discovery
  • Recall past achievements
  • Challenge negative thoughts
  • Imagine looking back at the task in
  • 3 or 6 months time

Sources of Help

  • TLC Study skills advisors
  • Disability Office
  • LSE Learning world: http://learning.lse.ac.uk/
  • Speak to other students
  • Tutor or Departmental Tutor
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing Advisor

LSE Student Counselling Service

  • Free and confidential
  • Groups and Workshops programme
    • Self Esteem Group – Monday 11th February. 3 week group, meets 11am – 1pm. Places available.
    • Stress Management Group – Thursday 21st February. 3 week group, meets 11am – 1pm. Places available.
    • Further workshops on procrastination, exams
  • Website has information about the Service

Download 12.2 Kb.

Share with your friends:

The database is protected by copyright ©sckool.org 2020
send message

    Main page