3 Types of Perfectionism: Which one are you?

3 Types of perfectionism

Are you the type of perfectionist that obsessively organizes, cleans, and gets upset if something is not put back in its place? Or does it take you hours to construct the "perfect" email response? Do you focus on the one negative comment and ignore all the positive feedback your supervisor gave you on your performance review?

Leading scholars Paul Hewitt and Gordon Flett created the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale (MPS) and identified 3 types of perfectionism. Through their research, they also highlighted how perfectionism can have a profound impact on one's personal and social life.

Take a look at Hewitt and Flett's 3 types of perfectionism below and see which one(s) resonate with you. Think about how the type of perfectionist you identified with impacts your life. If you find yourself in any one (or 2, or all 3) types of perfectionism, great! Now you are aware of the type of perfectionist you are and awareness is the first step to freeing yourself from perfectionism.   

3 types of perfectionism, which one are you?

Self oriented perfectionism: Your high and unrealistic standards are self imposed. You are motivated by not wanting to make mistakes or look like a failure. When you do make a mistake, your internal dialogue looks something like this: "I'm stupid, I'm fat, I'm pathetic, I'm such a failure.....etc."

Impact: This type of self criticism is not going to motivate you but rather it can led to anxiety, depression, low self esteem, and procrastination.

Consider doing this instead: Notice the language you use with yourself. Chances are you are negative, critical, and downright mean to yourself. Becoming aware of your inner critic can surprise you and you might not be aware of the negative messages you tell yourself on a daily basis. So, for every negative or critical thought that passes through you, come up with at least one positive, supportive, and loving statement you can match your negative statement with. Some examples of positive statements:

"I'm doing the best I can"

"I've been working really hard, it's good for me to take a break."

"I made a mistake. It does not mean I am a failure. I'm human just like everyone else."

Other oriented perfectionism: You set unrealistic standards of others that you expect them to meet. You are also critical towards others which causes significant relationship distress.

Impact: This type of perfectionism can cause anxiety, anger, and ongoing relationship problems for the receiver and the giver of high expectations. 

Consider doing this instead: If you find yourself upset when people in your life do not meet your expectations, take a step back and understand the purpose of your expectation. What meaning have you attached to your standards? Have you considered the other person's perspective? Here's some questions you can ask yourself:

"How might someone else look at this situation? How can I look at this situation differently?

"What would (insert close family or friend) think about this situation?"

"How can I connect more with others instead of criticizing them?"

Socially prescribed perfectionism: You believe others have certain expectations of you which cause a great deal of pressure and if you don't meet their expectations, you think they are going to criticize or think less of you. Socially prescribed perfectionists are motivated by approval of others.

Impact: Socially prescribed perfectionism can lead to generalized anxiety, depression, social anxiety, poor body image, and disordered eating.  

Consider doing this instead: Pay attention to the messages you listen to regularly. Do they inadvertently send the message that you are not good enough? Do they install fear, shame, or guilt in you? Be protective of the energy you allow into your life. If after watching the evening news you become sad, angry, and hopeless, turn it off! Surround yourself with good, uplifting, and motivating news instead. There's plenty of good in world, we just need to open our eyes to it.

Perfectionism is more than just appearing perfect or striving for perfection. Perfectionism serves a deeper meaning and is usually rooted in not feeling good enough.

If you are ready to dive deeper and understand how perfectionism is impacting your life, call me today for a FREE 30 minute consultation!