Almost everyone pursues perfection — doing the best job you can, setting goals and working hard to reach them, maintaining high standards. But perfectionism isn’t about any of this. Perfectionism is a long, maddening drive down a never-ending road for flawlessness; it provides no rest stops for mistakes, personal limitations or the changing of minds.

Perfectionism can cause feelings of anxiety, fear, and self-doubt; it can cripple self-esteem, stifle creativity, and put a stumbling block in the way of intimate friendships and love relationships. Ultimately, it can create or aggravate illnesses such as eating disorders, manic-depressive mood disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and substance abuse.

Everybody has some “built-in” perfectionism, especially in our achievement-oriented, competitive culture. Complete this questionnaire to discover how perfectionistic you are.

o  I never do anything halfway; it’s all or nothing for me. Everytime.

o  People who do things halfway make me angry or disgust me.

o  I believe there’s a certain way to do things and they should always be done that way.

o  I get angry or defensive when I make mistakes. I hate to make them.

o  I often procrastinate on starting projects. I seldom meet deadlines. Or if I do, I kill myself meeting them.

o  I feel humiliated when things aren’t perfect.

o  I don’t like to admit not knowing how to do something or to being a beginner. If I can’t do something well, I won’t do it.

o  People say I expect too much of myself. Or of them.

o  In my family, you could never completely measure up to expectations.

o  I’m hard on myself when I lose, even if it’s only a friendly game or contest.

o  I often withdraw from others and from group activities.

o  I don’t think work should be fun or pleasurable.

o  Even when I accomplish something, I feel let down or empty.

o  I criticize myself and others excessively.

o  I like to be in control; if I can’t be in control then I won’t participate.

o  No matter how much I have done, there’s always more I could do.

o  I don’t delegate often and when I do, I always double-check to make sure the job is done right. It never is.

o  I believe it is possible to do something perfectly and if I keep at it, I can do it perfectly.

o  Forgetting and forgiving is not something I do easily or well.

There is a difference between excellence and perfection. Striving to be really good is excellence; trying to be flawless is perfectionism. If you’re concerned about your perfectionist behavior, don’t hesitate to call.

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