Postdate: 31 July 2017
Keep on going and improving yourself: perfectionism seems to be a good character trait, but as with so many things, too much is not good. When you experience setbacks, it will even have a negative effect on your performances. This is because a feeling of never being satisfied can cause stress and a fear of failure.
Perfectionism and failure
Did you always tell yourself to perform, simply because you get the feeling that you have failed when you don't succeed? There is no such thing as being 'too much of a perfectionist', because you basically cannot be more than a perfectionist. It is important to look at the motive. First of all, perfectionism is the will to do well. When perfectionism is the result of a fear of failure, you will find yourself in a downward spiral: you work harder and harder without ever being satisfied or thinking that you are good enough. You can only feel good about yourself when you perform well. If this is the case, your mental resilience is very low.
Research among students conducted by Wolfde and Crocker resulted in clear conclusions. Students who thought that the performance was more important than the learning process were more focused on high marks and less on the content. This leads to an increased fear of failure and finding it difficult to cope with criticism.
Competence and self-esteem
The book Vergroot je zelfvertrouwen (Increase your self-confidence) by Robert Haringsma shows that it is vital to find a good balance between competence and dignity. Self-esteem is directly linked with self-confidence and your personal character traits. It is not linked to performances. With learning comes failure, and with failure comes criticism. But you must separate this from you as a person. A perfectionist with a fear of failure will never be satisfied and set too high demands on him/herself, which will result in stress and tension constantly lurking in the background. It will significantly increase the chance of getting a burnout. If you want to separate performance from your sense of self-esteem, then this takes guts. Letting go of old habits before you have replaced them with something new can give a feeling of uncertainty.
Find out what your personal convictions are that you can live by and stand for. This can be honesty or being helpful. Which activities do you like the most besides your work? Spend some more time on them. You are usually competent in something you like doing, but be aware: ask yourself every time if that is what comes first for you. Joy is more important than good.
‘Perfectionism is the fear of being criticized’