Self-demand and perfectionism: how to handle them? Many people in the world have the quality of being self-demanding and perfectionist, but you can have many problems at a personal and work level when you take this attitude to the extreme.
Despite this, being self-demanding and perfectionist is not a bad thing either, as it allows you to give your all to do top-quality work. This can benefit you a lot on a professional level. But you must learn to maintain control of these attitudes so that they do not harm you.
In this article, you can learn what self-demand and perfectionism are and how to handle them so that you can prevent these types of attitudes from harming you.
What is self-demand?
Self-demand is a personality characteristic that has to do with what we ask of ourselves. It is characterized by the goals we set for ourselves in our life and how we place ourselves before them.
Self-demand is a continuum in which we can distinguish between adaptive and maladaptive self-demand. The first one helps us achieve the goals we set for ourselves without undermining our self-esteem and preserving our well-being. Within the continuum, we could place it in the middle, be self-demanding in a balanced way.
On the other hand, we could place maladaptive self-demand at the extremes of the continuum. That is, we would speak of high or low self-demand. If the person always tries to give the maximum of themself, without sometimes taking into account their limits, we could speak of high self-demand.
One characteristic of high self-demand is that you always find something to improve. You never feel satisfied with what you do. We all set a list of goals to achieve, but for these people, their “homework” never ends. With this mechanism, it is normal to understand that stress, anxiety, and frustration are predominant emotions.
On the contrary, the intensity of self-demand is low. We would be talking about a tendency towards conformity, that is, there is no approach to improvement, although there is a certain vital dissatisfaction for which measures are not expected to be taken.
This reality could also relate to fears in the person (fear of change, not having the resources to grow), low motivation, and low capacity for effort in general (not knowing how to give continuity to a job that involves a certain cost).
Now, what is perfectionism?
According to the Royal Spanish Academy dictionary, perfectionism is the tendency to improve a job without deciding to consider finishing it indefinitely.
In psychology, perfectionism is the belief that an individual must achieve perfection in everything they do. A perfectionist becomes obsessed with that everything they do has the highest standards and meets all the required and desired qualities.
Although if we asked Voltaire what perfectionism is, he would tell us more simply and accurately that perfectionism is the enemy of good.
We tend to think that perfectionism is not bad because it drives us to do everything perfectly, right? It’s like that typical flaw that we sometimes even feel proud of and believe reflects our exquisite taste and high standards.
Now perfectionism, at its core, isn’t even about having high standards but more about fear. Fear of failure, fear of looking foolish, fear of making a mistake, fear of being judged, criticized, and ridiculed. In short, fear of not being good enough and not having the approval of others.
The fear of not being good enough is universal. We have all dealt with it. The problem occurs when this fear materializes into perfectionism. Perfectionism can be much more destructive than you might imagine.
Keys to coping with excessive self-demand
- Learn to select what is important from what is not. Since when we want to make everything perfect, we are afraid of leaving something necessary unattended.
- Learn to take more time to do tasks and to make decisions.
- Please focus on the process of the tasks you carry out and not so much on the final result.
- Assuming the possibility of making mistakes.
- Learn to think more positively, detecting those thoughts that make us continue to be self-demanding, for example: “I should be working; I have to do better; I won’t do well if I don’t invest a lot of time; I shouldn’t waste time,” etc.
- Feel free to express your emotions.
- Avoid planning everything, since in that way everything acquires the meaning of mandatory as if it were a job, and it does not allow us to relax and enjoy the moment.
- Give yourself space to have free time with nothing to do since it is difficult to tolerate doing nothing and not thinking that time is wasted, so it is good to get used to having small unstructured spaces.
People are used to seeing daily how behind a perfectionist style of thinking and behavior, some people suffer a lot. They suffer from high levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms, even develop some disorders. It is important to know how to have realistic goals and know how to demand ourselves without such a high cost.
How to overcome perfectionist attitudes?
Although complicated, it is possible to stop being a perfectionist, although, as in any personal change, it requires a high degree of commitment and willingness for the said change to be effective and permanent over time.
Here are some recommendations that can help you in the process:
Define more effective behavior. Self-demand and perfectionism
This should be the first step, as it will allow you to reflect on why you lead yourself to be a perfectionist. First, you have to discover and modify limiting behaviors. You have the exercise to become aware of the consequences in your life that this behavior can bring, and from there, work to find a more effective behavior.
Become aware of what the expected result is. Self-demand and perfectionism
The clear lesson is that you must adjust the quality level to what the other person expects when doing work for someone else.
For example, as we write this post, we try to reflect on what the person on the other end wants to read.
Lower your level of demand: review your expectations.
You have likely built a limiting belief around what, in your opinion, are the quality standards of a good professional or a responsible person. Understand that you are human and that this implies that you are not infallible and that you are going to make mistakes. Learn to accept this reality. (you can work it with positive affirmations).
Communicate with yourself positively. Self-demand and perfectionism
This is essential to work on the acceptance that we indicated previously. Avoid comments such as “I am stupid,” “you will see how I do it wrong,” “how bad I have done it!.” If your internal discourse is recurrent in this sense, apply with yourself the rule of Juan Carlos I “Why don’t you shut up?”.
Get in the habit of taking action. Self-demand and perfectionism
Apply the “Nike Rule” of time management to defeat the procrastination of small tasks. You will free up time. It will give you confidence, and anxiety levels will reduce.
Limit the time for routine tasks. Self-demand and perfectionism
Make a conscious decision to limit the time for routine tasks. For example, at work, if you check an email multiple times before sending it, consider sending it after you finish composing it, giving yourself a single review at most.
Limit the number of options to choose from.
Yes, we know you want to be right. From choosing tomatoes, to when you choose a hotel, restaurant, etc. Do you think it is worth spending hours, days, weeks… to make a decision that you will never know if it was the best?
Making a quick decision allows you to forget about it and free up your time. Annihilate that internal speech that tells you “now, but this one seems…” “and if this were better.” If necessary, cast lots and accept the result!
Ask for collaboration or help. Self-demand and perfectionism
Do you always try to solve problems by yourself? You have to stop being a perfectionist now! Allow others to help, collaborate, or work for you. In the workplace, delegate: order jobs in which you do not contribute a special value and lower the results’ expectations.
Homemade example: you are at home doing housework, and you ask your child to shop for clothes, although you have explained how to do it, probably if you are a perfectionist you will notice what they have not done exactly as you expected. If that detail doesn’t cause obvious damage, let it be.
Yes, we know it irritates you, but the one who has to learn is not your child. It is you. Ah! And thank them honestly (accepting their limitations).
Internalize the “Pareto law.” Self-demand and perfectionism
We will not give you great details because you can search for them on thousands of sites, but internalize this: 20% of your effort produces 80% of your results. In other words, please pay attention to how important it is that leads to the expected result because the rest (excessive detail) will not bring you great value.
Now that you know what self-demand and perfectionism are and how to handle them, you can work personally to avoid these kinds of attitudes and become the person you want to be.