You understand the task at hand but you aren’t ready to get started. The fear of failing and not meeting your goals is enough to increase your heart rate.

You find yourself procrastinating and making excuses. You tell yourself that you work best under pressure. The pressure helps to develop your creativity and achieve results. You know that once you start, you will do it all and be a success.

You just need to start. 

A sense of paralysis is common for people who identify as perfectionists. Interested to achieve great results, you work hard to meet goals but may not always feel confident. In fact, you may put off an activity until all the conditions needed to meet success feel right. 

Signs of Perfectionism

Perfectionism is often easy to miss. Highly driven, hard-working and detail-oriented are characteristics that are generally viewed as positive. You may be praised and rewarded for upholding high standards and expectations. 

Healthy aspects of perfectionism can lead you to overcome adversity. In addition, it can  motivate you to put meaningful effort into activities that have the potential to increase happiness and quality of life. For example, earning good grades, applying for a higher level position at work, and contributing help to friends and family. 

On the other hand, perfectionism is often related to preoccupation with performance and the fear of not being good enough. 

Perfectionistic tendencies can make you feel inadequate and many perfectionists begin to associate their own self-worth with their achievements. 

It becomes important to consistently appear your best and make a good impression on others. You may find yourself putting on a performance and brave face to always seem prepared and knowledgeable to the world. 

People pleasing and routinely saying yes are common behaviors to uphold appearances and avoid negative criticism.

You are already overcritical of yourself, aware of your perceived flaws and don’t need others to observe them also. Many of your behaviors serve to hide this fact. You don’t feel good enough.

The associated fear and shame may actually hamper your success, placing you in a cycle of worrying.

Counseling Can Help

Counseling can help you understand the helpful and unhelpful role perfectionism has in your life. You begin to explore the beliefs that you need to be perfect and learn ways to manage harsh self-judgments. 

Therapy can teach you to develop a kinder attitude toward yourself, reduce self-criticism, and accept your strengths and weaknesses. You can still work hard on your goals while also finding healthy ways to confront anxiety along the way.