Highland Creek, North Carolina
7318 Ridgefield Drive
Charlotte, NC 28269
(704) 770-7743

The Difficult Life of a Perfectionist August 9, 2014

Highland Creek, Charlotte
The Difficult Life of a Perfectionist, 1, Charlotte, North Carolina

Perfectionism can consume you. Those of you that struggle with it know what I mean. Not only does it like to dictate what you do and how and when you do it, but it also likes to take charge of your feelings about it all as well. Your head batters you with concerns about “I have to get it all done, done just right and by the (so-called) deadline” and “If I don’t I have failed (again)” and “I can’t make a mistake or…”, and even, “do ‘they’ approve of me?”. And way in the background of your mind you may hear, “…if I do it right I’ll be worthy/liked/loved”. Yes, you put a lot of pressure on yourself, and are often driven by ‘shoulds’. And, as you know, you likely have very high, unrealistic expectations of yourself and evaluate who you are by your achievement.

Wow, that sounds difficult and unsettling, even if you are used to it. How did you get into that way of thinking? Well the chances are that early in life you learned to equate love and approval with doing it ‘right’, and have found that the only way you feel good about yourself is through the praise and acceptance of others. And, without that external affirmation, whether it’s given or assumed, you find that in today’s life you instinctively feel there is something bad or wrong with you. Unfortunately, your self-inflicted high standards tend to sabotage your goal in this process and you may find that your bad feelings about yourself get progressively worse over time.

Well, you are in good company…many bright, capable people struggle with varying degrees of perfectionism. It can be a painful and debilitating way of living, one that you would love to trade in for a hearty sense of positive self esteem. The truth is that you were, in those early formative years, given incorrect information and beliefs about yourself and how to get your basic needs of being loved met in the circumstances you were in. And as we all do, you have subconsciously carried those early ’lessons’ with you as life moved forward.

Fortunately there is a way to stop this unfulfilling way of treating yourself, a way to come to value who you are, to make your own needs and wants important and to love and affirm yourself regardless of the ups and downs of your momentary performance. Many people make these changes in how they see themselves and their value through Individual Therapy. If you would like to find out more about this, please call me at my Charlotte University area office at 704-770-7743. I look forward to talking with you.

M. Leslie Owens, MSW, LCSW


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