perfectionism and procrastination

The pitfalls of Perfectionism and procrastination

Perfectionism and procrastination can cause a real problem and be a struggle for the people who suffer from it. Hypnotherapy and psychotherapy can be extremely helpful for those suffering with this problem. I have worked with this condition many times and the results can be very liberating and empowering.

It is ok to try and become the best we can be, it’s rational and realistic to aim to be as good as we can at something, whether its as an athlete, artist or writer. However, trying to be perfect at the task or goal is destined to end in failure. I was reminded of this whilst watching the Olympics. There are those sportsmen and women who are ecstatic at beating their personal best time and yet coming in 4th in a race. Then there are those who think that losing gold to silver is a complete failure.

There are those athletes that we expected to do well and that high fever of expectation almost set that athlete up to fail.

Usain Bolt won the 100 metres in style but still managed to focus attention on how badly he started out the blocks. And if that critical eye becomes too weighted towards their imperfections and mistakes, rather than their actual achievements or accomplishments, then perfectionist traits start to develop.

Everything seems to be goal driven in the world today and those aiming to be perfect are often the ones who put themselves under extreme pressure and suffer anxiety or even depression.

We often hear of how parents heap so much pressure on their children to do well in their classes and exams, which only leads to more anxiety and a fear of failure in the child.

When we set unrealistic goals and targets for ourselves or even for others, it can only end one way, disappointment. If you look at high achievers, they tend to pulled towards their target and motivated by their desire to achieve them. Any steps in the right direction are appreciated. Whereas, perfectionists rather push themselves toward their targets and goals through the fear of not achieving them, and along the way, any target not met perfectly is considered a failure.

Sometimes chasing that target can be really enjoyable for a high achiever, even more rewarding that reaching the goal itself. But, if you have perfectionist traits, you are more likely to focus on the actual goal itself, and nothing else. This can lead to no enjoyment of the steps taken to achieve the goal, worrying along the way about meeting the goal and trying to block out thoughts of failure, that you simply experience the whole journey with a sense of dread.

When I was training as a Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapist I remember putting myself under extreme pressure to be the best hypnotherapist out there. But, I soon realised that this was really unrealistic and not reasonable. To set goals within your reach is the best way to succeed, to set those goals high by all means, and enjoy the journey of reaching that goal.

If the goal is too tough to reach, then that goal may become unmet. To a perfectionist this merely exacerbates the disappointment and then the self-criticism kicks in again and the feelings become even more negative.

There is an inherent fear of failure present in most perfectionists; however, sometimes it can also be a fear of success that causes the problem. Either way, perfectionism often leads to putting things off, or, procrastination. This seems slightly ironic, however, a perfectionist will ruminate and worry so much about doing everything perfectly leading towards that goal that the only way to relieve the symptoms of the anxiety is to bring avoidance into the equation. But, the anxiety returns when the realisation sets in that nothing has been done. This is especially true if the perfectionist is delivering something in the work environment, perhaps to a deadline. Quite often, the individual will put things off right up until the last minute and then heap huge pressure on himself or herself to get the job done. The feelings are now stress as well as anxiety. So you can see a rather vicious circle developing.

Delivering work last minute, usually means that it isn’t up to scratch, which may lead to criticism, and to the perfectionist, this is highly undesirable often leading to denial or defensiveness about the situation. A high achiever on the other hand, would more than likely take the criticism in a constructive way and learn from it.

It is often the case that perfectionists have lower self esteem than others. The constant self criticism and uneasiness about their constant drive towards doing things absolutely perfectly can lead to very low self respect.

If you recognise any of these tell tail signs then you can do something about it. Psychotherapy and hypnotherapy can address all the reasons for your perfectionism and procrastination. Hypnosis can help uncover the unconscious reasons and the psychotherapy can help you think about things differently. You can begin to identify patterns and triggers for the perfectionism. Some core beliefs may have been set when you were young and although most are unconscious or unknown, they still have a bearing on how you act and feel later in life. Some traits may be positive and some negative, so we work on the positives. And to look at failings as lessons from which you grow and learn. We can also build self esteem so that you become comfortable with who you are.