Understanding perfectionism: Root causes, myths & facts

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By Dr. Melissa Ming Foynes. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

In this first episode of a 3-part series on perfectionism, I define perfectionism and outline three key dimensions: 1) 𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧-𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘧𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘪𝘴𝘮, which involves requiring perfection of yourself, 2) 𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳-𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘧𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘪𝘴𝘮 which involves requiring perfection of other people, and 3) 𝘴𝘰𝘤𝘪𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘤𝘳𝘪𝘣𝘦𝘥 𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘧𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘪𝘴𝘮, which involves believing that other people require perfection of you. I also help you examine the ways in which perfectionism may show up in varying degrees in different life domains of your life (e.g., appearance, physical fitness, profession, hobbies/vocation, parenting/mentorship, relationships, sexual life, physical environment, vulnerability, relationship to time and space, relationship to success, self-worth/beliefs). I describe some of the root causes of perfectionism to help you consider how perfectionism might have been developed in your own life, all through a lens of compassion since perfectionistic tendencies often develop in an attempt to cope with anxiety and in response to prior life experiences and conditioning. I also dispel common myths about perfectionism by sharing what the research says about the pros and cons of different dimensions of perfectionism. Throughout, I emphasize the importance of really gaining insight into your perfectionistic tendencies and patterns and the ways in which they both do and don't serve you so you can have more clarity with which to decide what, if anything, you want to change in your life and can therefore live from a more intentional place. Stay tuned for the next two episodes in this 3-part series, as well as a forthcoming free workbook to accompany you as you continue to understand and address perfectionistic tendencies.

Additional Resources & Information

  1. For more strategies that can support you in managing perfectionistic tendencies, check out my free 4-part video series on building resilience: https://melissafoynes.com/free-series

  2. If you're interested in personalized support in understanding and breaking through patterns of perfectionism, check out my 1:1 Coaching Program: https://melissafoynes.com/1-1-program

  3. Follow @drfoynes on Instagram for more tips on gaining insight into and addressing perfectionistic tendencies.

Please note that the information provided in this episode does not constitute professional advice or therapy, mental health services, or health care services, & is not intended to serve as a substitute for professional advice or services. If you are struggling with a mental health crisis or need immediate assistance, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

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