What keeps perfectionism going?
The last session explored what areas of your life are impacted by perfectionism. Today's session is about understanding how perfectionism impacts those areas, how it plays into the way you think, and how it affects your behaviour.
Treatments which have the most success are those that tackle what is keeping the problem going in the here-and-now, rather than those that look backwards in search of causes. Of course, later on it is important to take a step back and think about factors that may have contributed to the onset of perfectionism so that you can be mindful of them and try not to go back into old perfectionist ways.
Example of maintenance cycle
Here's another example about Catherine
Catherine is a 20 year old ex-student of the University of Cambridge. She was having a year away from her studies because she was finding it difficult to cope with the workload. She had always got top marks in her studies and had won prizes for creative writing as well. Whatever she set her mind to, she achieved. She derived some pleasure from her achievements, but it was usually short-lived as she went over situations in her head and found faults with herself. Her primary difficulty with university was that she was unable to complete all the reading that was required for her course. At school, she had worked most nights and weekends and had managed to get the work done although it meant she rarely went to parties and had few friends., At university, despite working as hard as possible, she could not complete the reading list. Her university had tried to help her by telling her that she did not need to read everything, but she felt unable to start writing until her reading was complete. After three or four months of problems with eating and not sleeping due to work, she went to her GP for some tablets to help with her low mood, anxiety, and feeling that her life was out of her control.