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Understanding the Maintenance Cycle 

What keeps perfectionism going is different for each person. Whether your diagram is larger or smaller, has more or less connections, or includes parts which you aren't sure count as perfectionism, it does not matter.


There is no right or wrong way to draw your diagram, as long as it makes sense to you. 

Your own maintenance cycle will be a culmination of your experiences, beliefs, and behaviours.


The easiest way to see your cycle is by including all aspects you think are important and connecting various parts in order to understand how these pieces of your life fit together. As you begin to see the connections, you can understand how changing one area can create change in other areas as well. 

Here are some questions to help get you started. 

Download the worksheet for this activity here.

How do you think about yourself, feel about yourself, or judge yourself in relation to your achievements or strivings? 

What are some of your high standards? What are some things you demand of yourself?

What sort of rules do you have to help you achieve your high standards?

How do you react to your perceived failures? What are some examples of the things you say to yourself? After a perceived success, what are some examples of the things you say to yourself? How long does the feeling last? Do you find ways to discount your success? 

How do you behave following an attempt to reach your standards? Do you try harder? Work more intensely? Procrastinate? Avoid certain people or situations which remind of you of your attempt? What does engaging in these behaviours do to your ability to succeed next time? 

What emotions do you associate with each of these stages you've just described?

Have a go at drawing your diagram.

Remember, there is no one 'perfect' representation for your perfectionism. The idea here is to explore your personal experiences with perfectionism.

Once you've drawn your diagram, take a moment to think about what it's telling you. Does it make sense to you? Does it provide you with any new information that you didn't know beforehand?


Include any initial thoughts you have here.

Thoughts or initial impressions go here.

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