Did you know that there are three types of perfectionism? Once I learned about these, I started to observe my behaviours with more clarity and was on to myself more quickly. Ruminating about something I did or didn’t do? – ah, that’s my self-oriented perfectionism kicking in. Judging someone for how they did X? –that’s probably my other-oriented one. And so it goes!
Overall, my self-awareness has helped me take a more positive (i.e., healthy) approach to my perfectionism.
Three types of perfectionism
You’re likely reading this post because you have perfectionist tendencies. Or maybe you’re an all-out perfectionist.
In either case, you know that your perfectionism contributes to stress and takes away from your overall well-being. But, once you have more self-awareness about your perfectionism, you also have more agency about the choices you make and the behaviours you practice. If that appeals to you, read on to determine which of these categories apply to you.
Self-oriented perfectionism: High standards for self
This is the perfectionism that you require of yourself.
Some “typical” characteristics include that you:
- are likely to hold yourself to a very high standard –sometimes one that is far beyond what you can reasonably achieve
- are often highly motivated to go after your goals
- may shoulder the blame when things go wrong (even if you are not to blame)
- easily see the mistakes in the actions you take
Other-oriented perfectionism: Massive expectations of others
These perfectionists hold others to high standards–often unrealistically high ones–and are critical and judgmental towards others, such as family, friends, significant others, and coworkers. If this is you, you might struggle with trust and blame.
Socially-prescribed perfectionism: Others expect so much of me
Socially prescribed perfectionism is driven by the perception that others are judging you by an unrealistic standard. It leads to the belief that you are not meeting the standards required by your workplace culture, family, society etc and that you are constantly letting everybody else down. Socially prescribed perfectionist are self-critical and worry others will reject them.
Which type are you?
Having read these brief descriptions, can you see which category applies to you most often? If there are other perfectionists in your life, can you spot which type of perfectionism they practice? Naturally, there is overlap in the categories and you can be more than one type.
I know what type I am, now what?
I recognize that perfectionism has some “pros”…But, overall, I feel strongly that whether you’re your own worse critic or everyone else’s worse critic (or a combination of both), perfectionism is something that needs to be addressed–gently, but firmly. Doing so can help augment your well-being.
If you’ve poked around my blog, you’ll see that I don’t really believe that we can “overcome” perfectionism. Instead, I believe in taking a positive approach to our own perfectionism.
That’s why I love to support my fellow ambitious perfectionists in creating their own ideal mix of healthy boundaries and expectations that work for them so they can achieve their goals with kindness (and without throwing quality of life out the window).
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