Every Day Tips for Dealing with Anxiety & Perfectionism - Premier Counseling
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Every Day Tips for Dealing with Anxiety & Perfectionism

By Mackenzi Davis, LCSW

If you’re a perfectionist, it will come as no surprise to you to hear that the pressure you put on yourself to get it all right can lead to a lot of anxiety. When it comes to addressing perfectionistic or anxious thoughts and the behaviors they produce, it can be beneficial to work with a skilled professional during therapy sessions. In this blog, we’ve included some tips and tricks that work for some people, but everyone is different.

How are Anxiety & Perfectionism Connected?

Let’s talk a little bit more about this complicated relationship in all of its glory. One thing that we know about anxiety is that it is driven by fear. We know that perfectionism is driven by the need to be the perfect person, accepted by all, and the need to succeed. In my best Beyoncé’ voice, they aim to “wake up flawless.” The race to perfection becomes a maladaptive way of coping with the uncomfortable feeling of anxiety. The cycle continues, because it fuels the anxiety by creating this high standard. The anxiety shows its ugly head again by getting in the way of achieving goals that you have set for yourself…exhausted yet? The way that I comprehend it is that essentially, they feed each other and create this cycle of turmoil that gets in the way of actually completing something you can be proud of.

Here’s the thing, there are some positive and negative consequences to having this personality trait. From a positive point of view, it is a factor in achieving goals that you have set for yourself it allows you to continue to engage in self- improvement, and aids to being focused and driven. This is all beautiful. However, the down side to not providing yourself the space to not be perfect is the anxiety that comes with it. It can be a set up for failure, negative self-evaluations, and disappointment. Not to mention that it may put you in the position to scrutinize others if they don’t live up to your unrealistic standards. Here are some examples of anxiety-inducing perfectionistic thinking. If you find yourself engaging in these thoughts or if reading this article increases your anxiety, then there may be some space for self-compassion and therapy.

4 Examples of Anxiety-Inducing Perfectionistic Thinking

  • Black-and-White Thinking – if I ask for help, people will think I’m weak.
  • Catastrophic Thinking – if I embarrass myself in front of my coworkers, my career will be ruined.
  • Overestimation Thinking – if I take a day off of work, my employer will think that I’m lazy.
  • Could-of, Should-of, Would-of Thinking – I wish I would have made a different decision.

4 Tools for Tackling Anxiety-Inducing Perfectionistic Thinking

  • Challenge False Dichotomies – if you’re dealing with black-and-white thinking, take time to question these dichotomies. Using the example above, if you ask for help, does that mean you’re weak? Will people really assume that?
  • Look at the big picture – taking the catastrophic thinking example above into consideration, you can see how looking at the big picture is important. Tripping over a chord in the office and spilling coffee may be embarrassing, but if you take a step back and look at the big picture, you will likely see that it’s not the end of your career.
  • Compromise – if you tend to overestimate the consequences of your actions, it can be helpful to find ways to compromise with yourself. Taking the “overestimation” example above, if you think taking a day of work will make your employer think you’re lazy, maybe schedule an appointment to talk to your boss about work load, expectations, and the time off policy.
  • Stop focusing on the past – it’s easy to find yourself trapped in a circle of the could-of, should-of, would-of’s. Instead of thinking about what you wish you would have done in the past, think about changes that you can make in the future.

How Central Arkansas Group Counseling Can Help

If you’re interested in work with a therapy professional in Benton or North Little Rock, the Central Arkansas Group Counseling team would love to help. We offer both traditional in-office therapy sessions and telehealth counseling sessions online. To get started working with one of our skilled clinicians, call Central Arkansas Group Counseling in Benton or North Little Rock.

Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash