Psychology Tip of the Week #4: The Perfectionist’s Trap

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If you read these tips, you may have noticed that recently I’ve missed more weeks than I’ve posted. In fact, I’ve missed so many weeks I wouldn’t blame you if you thought I had decided not to send tips anymore! This seemed like a good opportunity to address one of the biggest traps that perfectionists fall into: all-or-nothing thinking. There are many ways all or nothing thinking can get in the way of happiness or success, and perfectionism is one of them.

On the positive side, perfectionism shows you have high standards and value doing things right, and it can motivate you to do your best. When all-or-nothing thinking kicks in, perfectionism takes the form of “If I can’t do something right, I may as well not do it at all,” and can lead to spending excessive amounts of time agonizing over getting things perfect, frustration when perfection is not attained, burnout, or giving up. It can also lead to a fixed mindset that you’re either good at something or you’re not, so you might as well not put effort into those things you believe you’re “just not good at.”

If I were going to handle this lapse in posting in an overly perfectionistic manner and use all-or-nothing thinking, I would most likely stop sending tips, and would probably spend my energy feeling upset about failing instead of moving forward. Instead, I’ll choose to keep sending tips when I can and hope that it makes a difference in someone’s life when I do. I won’t promise not to miss anymore posts, because the truth is I probably will. Maybe I’ll consider changing these posts to “tips” instead of “tips of the week” someday, but for now I’ll just be happy I posted this one 😊

This week, try to notice how all-or-nothing thinking is impacting you.