IF YOU CALL yourself a perfectionist, chances are your outfits always match, your Instagram is impeccably filtered, you already had a career path mapped out in elementary school…and you may have perfectionism disorder. If spilling coffee on that outfit, getting tagged in an unflattering pic, or pulling in a B on a test sends you into a tailspin of critical thinking, your inner perfectionist is suffering.
According to psychologists, a rigid drive in the direction of this magical idea of perfect is maladaptive. Pathological, or maladaptive, perfectionism is a personality trait that can lead to generalized anxiety, depression, and patterns of behavior that fit the criteria of a psychiatric disorder. In its milder form, perfectionism disorder can lead to procrastination and a fear of failure that paradoxically leads to failure (since the so-called perfectionist is too scared or rigid to think outside of the box.) Is this path to perfection screwing with your life?
Step 1, chill. You can’t always cover up real life with ‘Valencia’. Even the best of us trip on runways, drool in our sleep, and finish pints of ice cream in one sitting. It happens. The key is to let go of trying to be the Phoenix and embrace those moments of imperfection, because guess what? If you’re striving for perfect, you’re probably miserable, and misery is no one’s idea of perfect.
Step 2, ask yourself, Is my perfectionism disorder making those around me miserable with overt criticism? If your silent disappointment in your kid’s bronze medal is louder than the cheers for the first place winner, your criticism just kicked you out of your perfect zone.
Step 3, reflect. Is your perfect self a kill joy? If you always order the salad with dressing on the side, skip the wine, and turn up your nose at dessert because your size zero self just can’t fall of the perfection bandwagon, you just lost the perfect game. Life is about sharing time, experiences, and celebrations, not maintaining a lustrous facade. Don’t let perfect make you lame.
Step 4, let go. Perfectionism disorder takes away choices. Say the tunnel vision path to success in front of you is suddenly crossed by an opportunity that will completely change the course of your life (I’m talking like Oscar-worthy). If giving it a shot will throw a wrench into your meticulously color coded plans, are you too scared to fail, or are you going to take it?