Chasing perfectionism a losing battle

Dec. 24, 2012 at 10:46 PM
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TORONTO, Dec. 24 (UPI) -- There is nothing wrong with wanting to do things well, but having high standards is not the same thing as perfectionism, a Canadian expert says.

Martin Antony, a professor in the Department of Psychology at Ryerson University in Toronto, said organizing a party or hosting a family dinner doesn't have to be flawless, just relaxing and enjoyable.

Perfectionism refers to a tendency to have excessively high standards -- standards that cannot possibly be met, Antony said.

Perfectionists often experience intense anxiety, shame, anger, or low mood when their standards or goals are not met and perfectionism might affect people's functioning by causing them to spend too long on tasks, or to avoid tasks altogether, Antony said.

Antony, author of "When Perfect Isn't Good Enough: Strategies for Coping with Perfectionism," said if you fear you might be a perfectionist, "consider your perfectionist thoughts and shift your thinking to be more realistic and balanced."

For example, if you are convinced that you need to have that 12-piece expensive dining set with matching napkins, tablecloth and center piece, challenge your thoughts by asking:

-- What if I just use the place settings and other items from last year? Will anyone really notice?

-- Does it really matter if I don't have the perfect holiday table setting for my guests?

-- Do I really need to spend that extra time and money to create an elaborate menu, or can I ask my guests to bring wine, appetizers and dessert?

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