Be Positive: Perfectionism

Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.

—Brené Brown, from The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Among today’s college students, the drive to be perfect in body, mind, and career has significantly increased compared with previous generations of students, and this may be taking a toll on young people’s mental health, according to research published recently by the American Psychological Association.

Picture-11Perfectionism, the researchers say, is “an irrational desire to achieve along with being overly critical of oneself and others.”

The researchers said that some areas in which today’s young adults feel most perfectionistic are in a drive to earn money, pressure to get a good education, and setting high career goals. Many young people compare their own achievements to other people’s.

To stay positive, it’s more helpful to compare ourselves with ourselves. Are we doing better now than we were doing a month ago—six months, a year, five years? Are we more creative, mindful, humorous, playful, and relaxed?

What are the signs you notice in yourself that you’re becoming perfectionistic? How do you stay positive when this happens? Share with us in the comments!

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Hi! The moderator is a research team member with a background in behavioral health. We're here to help answer your questions and stimulate some great conversation! We don't provide therapy and are not available 24-7 so please if you are in crisis, go to our crisis page: https://sova.pitt.edu/i-need-help-now We look forward to talking to you!

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