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Old 03-02-2019, 02:15 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Anybody else struggle with perfectionism?


I am 3 years in and feel a lot better in myself generally. One big issue for me is perfectionism and I was wondering if anybody else has this. Is there a link with alcoholism and perfectionism.
Two good examples at the moment:
1) I moved house a few years ago and I am just finishing off some jobs around the house I had been putting off. Waxing doors, tidying up cables, painting to name a few. If the job I do is not perfect I am fixated on the one small negative part even though the rest of the job was fine.
2) I got promotion last year and my boss says I am doing fine. Everyone makes mistakes at work and if I make an error then I think the whole day has been a failure even though 99% of it went smooth. I think I set my goals too high in life and have too high standards and I can get really tired from it.
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Old 03-02-2019, 02:23 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm right there with you. Constant struggle with my own mind being too hard on myself in my case.

I will fixate on the mishaps non-stop. But when I have a victory, I forget about it and start thinking about the mishaps again (however small).

In your post you point out the contradiction of your perfectionist thinking. Sounds like you did lots of work, why sweat the...as you say yourself...small stuff.
"small negative part even though the rest of the job was fine."

Congratulations on the promotion! Once again 99% smooth, wow I wish I had that success rate! Just remember that this level of perfectionism will likely hold you back. I'm speaking as someone who is trying to take his own advice.
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Old 03-02-2019, 02:29 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I also sweat over 1 small thing even if I got 99% of the task right. However, in no way am I perfectionist. It is insecurity, fear someone will criticise me, realise I'm actually not really any good at my job or at whatever I am doing. It's a lack of control, fear and insecurity.

Critical parents, never quite being good enough perhaps
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Old 03-02-2019, 02:30 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I used to be a perfectionist. I softened as I got older and no longer push myself that much.
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Old 03-02-2019, 02:36 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I can relate to this. Once I was solid in my recovery I formulated a plan of where I wanted to be in the short term and long term future. I'm 40 years old and I have my goals which I want to hit by the age of 45.

On the one hand it's healthy to set goals for yourself but I will admit to having tunnel vision. I need to tell myself that it's not about the destination rather the journey.
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Old 03-02-2019, 03:44 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I used to struggle with perfectionism until I realized I was.


You know those little details that you fuss over so much? You're the only one that notices them.

For ex. I am a big DIYer. I do all my own remodeling and would scrutinize every nail, seam, joint, grout line and never feel satisfied. Then I went to a friends brand new house that they paid way more than my home is worth, and as I looked around carefully, I realized that I was being too hard on myself. Because I wouldn't have paid for that work. Lol.

I think when we accept we are not perfect, the closer we get to it.
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Old 03-02-2019, 04:00 PM   #7 (permalink)
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a lot of it is ego....thinking that we ARE perfect or can achieve perfect. or that there IS a perfect to achieve.

there just isn't. take one of nature's beauties....the rose. or snowflakes. each are unique, no two are alike, but none are THE perfect representation. compare the flight of a great blue heron....slow and almost prehistoric in motion. versus the hummingbird - minuscule zippy little thing. both can fly, they just go about it in their own way.

you have YOUR way. and it's good enough. perfectly IMPERFECT.
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Old 03-02-2019, 04:00 PM   #8 (permalink)
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When I was seeing a counselor we talked about similar things that were going on with me. For me they were Snap Judgements or Thinking Traps


1) Magnification and Minimization - for example when I do a great job at work I minimize it in my mind, whereas if I make one tiny mistake I will tend to maximize or magnify it in my mind.

2) Personalization - Blaming my self for things that are out of my control. For example at work if I do everything I can possibly do and something fails due to some external reason (be it someone else’s fault or just a systematic failure) I would blame myself.

3) Labeling - Assigning overly general labels. For example, you make one or two minor mistakes or errors and you call it a total failure.

4) All or nothing thinking - Thinking only in extremes. Sort of like the above, a small error makes something a total failure when really things are not typically black and white and there is a grey area.

5) Emotional Reasoning - Assuming your emotional reaction proves something is true about a situation ( I tend to be hypersensitive so I may perceive a negative reaction as an attack on me)

The work arounds were to do the following:

Question correctness of your thoughts (may only be in your head), think in Shades of Grey, Avoid Generalizations and finally Consider other Factors.

This has helped me. Hope it can help you as well.
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Old 03-02-2019, 04:14 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I am not as much a perfectionist as I used to be though I would still remove a radiator from a wall to hang wallpaper behind it properly rather than just try to tuck the paper behind. And then inevitably spend two hours putting the rad back without getting any leaks.

My doctor once said to me that perfectionists are the world's unhappiest people. He might be right.
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Old 03-02-2019, 04:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I think, in a way, my drinking came out of my perfectionism - drinking was an attempt to control the uncontrollable mess of feelings and emotions I had that got in the way of my control mania...the need to control came from fear.

Drinking also served to numb myself out and give my mind a break.

I've given up being General Manager of the Universe and I've gotten away from my need to control.

Some of the best things that have happened to me since came as genuine surprises

I'll admit I'm still pretty dogged when it comes to things...but I won't let my obsession or perfectionism become harmful now...that kind of frustration and self flagellation leads to drinking...

I'll rather let things go in the knowledge I've done the best I can, than to push myself punishingly to try and achieve goals I know are unrealistic and unattainable.

D
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Old 03-02-2019, 05:39 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I can relate. One thing that helped me over the years is to imagine what I would think/feel if someone else made the same mistake, or performed at the same level. We can be our own worst critics. Often I would beat myself up over a smaller shortcoming in my performance than I would praise someone else for having accomplished. Once I learned to consider my own work or mistake the same as I would someone else's, it became easier to deal with my own shortcomings.
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Old 03-02-2019, 10:11 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Yeah I remember posting a thread about alcohol and perfectionism. It was like "how can people expect to you quit and still be perfect?"

Looking back, it seemed like an odd question but I still get it. In a funny way I felt I drank to maintain control. I drank every day and basically all day, if I could. It was never so much to get drunk as much as it was because I felt I needed it to be numb and hence in control. I always feared my emotions and felt they did nothing but get in the way.

As we all know by now, alcohol only made emotions worse, not better. The only way to keep up "the control" was to keep up the drinking and the intake or else the house of cards would come tumbling down.
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Old 03-02-2019, 11:29 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I struggle with that. And because I know it, I then beat myself up when I’m doing it... basically being a perfectionist about addressing my perfectionism. That’s when I know I need to get outside and sweat it out on a run, or something.

Before alcohol, I struggled with an eating disorder from my childhood into adulthood. While there are other issues that brought that on, perfectionism was a central issue - the need to control. Weirdly, alcohol use was one way I let that go, although the behaviors ran concurrent to some extent also. But all it did was mask the symptoms and exacerbate the problem, while introducing new problems.

In sobriety I’ve had to really look at it because I can get pretty hard on myself when I engage in any kind of action that is suggestive of being a chaotic person. I need to chill on that and recognize and embrace a balance.

Eating disorders are a particular kind of hell, not dissimilar to alcoholism. I really never want to go back there, but I also can see the path if I’m not careful.
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