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How Perfectionism Influences Social Anxiety

Perfectionism can drive people to great achievements. It can provide the energy and motivation to keep going until a goal is reached. Striving to do a perfect job is awesome!

However, when you are striving to be a perfect person you start running into troubles.

Perfectionism has been one of the big contributors to my previous social anxiety. I grew up always wanting to be the best. I simply enjoyed the challenge.

But, when I hit puberty I always felt I had to impress, and be the coolest, funniest etc. I tried to be a perfect person. And when I was not that perfect person I felt people didn’t like and respect me.

This becomes social perfectionism.

I handled this problem for myself by now. I now strive for excellence and stopped taking myself so seriously.

In this article I will tell you about the myth of perfectionism, how it affects your social anxiety and what to do about it.

The Myth Of Perfection

A personal standard, attitude, or philosophy that demands perfection and rejects anything less.

This means that when you don’t live up to your own expectations of being perfect, you feel unworthy. Or low on self esteem.

Let’s face it, being perfect as a human being is impossible. You simply cannot be perfect. You can always do better.

So you’re striving for an illusion! And you’re beating yourself up internally for not living up to your own unattainable expectations… Isn’t that crazy?

Let me try to be more clear.

Feeling the need to be perfect is an idea or belief inside your mind. And it is an irrational belief because it doesn’t exist in the real world. This is because, once again, it is impossible to be a perfect human being.

Let me explain:

For perfection we need to have a way of measuring it. For a multiple choice test you can score 30 out of 30. A perfect score. But how can we exactly measure being a perfect person? We can’t!

So being perfect doesn’t exist, there’s only perfect scores.

Below I’ve created a list of where (social) perfectionism gets unhealthy.

So if you have a perfectionist personality…

  • You strive to be the best, to be the ideal person and to never make a mistake. Which is impossible..
  • You have developed this habit that keeps you constantly aware of weakness, imperfections and failure in yourself and others.
  • You have an intense fear of being flawed and your ultimate goal is the unattainable “being perfect”.
  • You have the irrational belief that you and/or your environment must be perfect.
  • You have the attitude that whatever you try to achieve in life must be done perfect. No mistakes whatsoever because that would mean you are less worthy or unworthy.
  • You fear change out of the fear of not changing perfectly. You fear success because you’re afraid of not being able to keep up with the success.
  • You fear success because you’re afraid of not being able to keep up with it.
  • You fear making mistakes because you think you will lose respect.
  • You fear failure altogether and make little or no attempt to set goals. If you do set goals they are unrealistic which causes you to procrastinate or quit altogether.
  • You talk yourself down for days after the smallest mistake or misplaced remark.
  • You want a perfect partner and are therefore single.
  • You are very sensitive to criticism and you take it personally instead of seeing it as feedback.

How does social perfectionism affect social anxiety?

It affects it in several ways. I’ve bullet pointed them below.

It affects your social anxiety if you strive to be a socially perfect person because…

  • You are probably very critical and judgmental. Not only of yourself, but also of others. And this rigid behavior drives people away!
  • You are never satisfied with how you did something or how you come across. So you never feel “good enough”. This is hurting your self confidence.
  • You feel there’s something wrong with you. You believe this to be imperfection and you don’t see an easy way out. You are afraid to never be perfect and this can lead to depression.
  • You lack the motivation to attack your social anxiety. You might believe that it is too big of a goal and that it will require too many errors and mistakes.
  • You fear you can‘t handle this, or that you won’t persevere. So you don’t even try because it would confirm your imperfection even more.
  • You are convinced it will be extremely difficult to achieve your ideal goal. You feel you will be easily discouraged and pessimistic about reaching the ideal goal so you don’t even try.
  • You fear failure and embarrassment so much that you become immobilized and give up before you try.
  • You don’t believe you have it in you to completely conquer your social anxiety.
  • You feel that you’ll never reach your ideal goal anyway so why bother?

Learn more about what social perfectionism is in this short clip below.

What To Do About It?

You have to completely accept yourself, with all your flaws included. Let go of how you should be.

Realize that you are already perfect, just by the mere fact that you are born. You won the race with millions of other sperm cells! A perfect performance!

You only think you are not perfect because of all the society programming you have gotten from TV, commercials, magazines etc.

Besides, people that always try to be perfect are boring! Understand that you are human, and that humans make mistakes. This is fine. Forgive yourself when you make mistakes and laugh at it. Try to take yourself less serious.

Enjoy the path of improvement. Set an attainable, flexible goal and give yourself plenty of time to achieve it. Realize that you might never be able to achieve that ideal goal. And accept that, but still try to reach for it and enjoy the path of improving.

Smaller goals. Put smaller goals within your end goal. Once you achieve one of the smaller goals, reward yourself. This reinforces your efforts to change and keeps you motivated.

Failure doesn‘t exist. Get this concept out of your mind. There is only feedback on how to do it better next time. You either succeed or you learn and take that lesson for your next attempt.

Be proud of good performances, even though they weren’t perfect.

Get rid of your negative inner voice and replace your irrational beliefs regarding perfection and social perfection. Reframe it. Make yourself want to be excellent instead of perfect.

Realize that making an effort to change is good in and of itself. You don’t have to be the best, the example, the popular one, the coolest etc. Let other people worry about that.

What you do, and how perfect or imperfect you do it should not affect your sense of worth. It’s who you are as a person, not what you do.

If you want to learn more about how to approach perfectionism in social situations, check out this podcast episode for more insight.

So, please don’t take yourself so seriously. The more you can laugh at yourself, the more easy your life becomes, the more you like yourself and the more people like you.

Start accepting being imperfect. Be perfectly fine with striving for excellence!

I found a technique that helped me accept myself and overcome my social anxiety completely. It is NOT changing your thoughts, deep-breathing and facing your fears…

It’s far more powerful than that.

I have a free social confidence starter kit where I teach you this technique over a series of videos.


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