How do you know if you’re suffering from perfectionism versus having high standards?
Here are some test questions you can ask yourself that might help you see the difference:

Standards I set:

  • Do I routinely disappoint myself when I’m trying to live up to the standards I have set?
  • Do I ever live up to the standards I have set?

Perfectionist feelings:

  • What is my emotional reaction when I fail to live up to those standards? Am I angry at myself? Frustrated? Depressed? Am I anxious that others will notice my failures? Do I hate myself?
  • Are others concerned for me or put off by self-directed goals?

Perfectionist thinking:

  • Am I purely binary in my thinking – either I have achieved my goal or I’ve failed – without any room for “good enough”?
  • Do I fear the humiliation of failure (or even slightly-less-than-perfection) in front of others?
  • Do I blow consequences out of proportion? (“If I don’t memorize my entire presentation and have to glance at cue cards my boss will fire me.”)
  • Do I never leave room for mistakes? (“I should always get an A+ or I’m a failure.” “I should never have a wrinkle in my suit.”)

Perfectionist behaviour:

  • Do I avoid new experiences because I won’t be good at them (and others will be able to see how bad I am)?
  • Do the goals I’ve set actually seem to hinder my performance because I’m too cautious?
  • Do I live my life according to lists, scheduling myself right down to the smallest activities of the day (how much time I watch t.v., when and for how long I’m in the shower, etc.)?
  • Is it difficult for me to make decisions, even when it’s something small like which flavour of ice cream to have because I’m afraid of missing out on the “better” choice?


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