How To Deal with a Perfectionist: 5 Examples and Tips
Perfectionists are all around us and their unsolicited advice can wear us down. Think, for example, about those people that keep commenting about which work suits us most, how we should parent our children, how we should dress, or how we should clean our house. Why is it that the perfectionists in our lives can affect our wellbeing? And, how can we manage the perfectionists that surround us? Today we will find out.
How Perfectionists Affect Us
Perfectionists tend to pressure those around them into conforming to their high standards and expectations, and they might do so unwittingly. They tend to treat others in the same way they treat themselves; demanding everyone to fulfil their demands and their concept of perfection. In a nutshell, they want themselves and others to be perfect. However, their idea of perfection might be different to yours. Each person’s idea of perfection is moulded by their own values, criteria, and standards. Simply put, we all have a different view of what it means to be or do something perfectly.
So, when we have a perfectionist in our lives, we might budge to their pressure and try to fulfil their hefty demands. We might not even agree with their standards but we might not actually know this. Therefore, we start putting effort into complying with their rules, standards, and ideas because we do not realize that these are not our rules; that this is not what perfection means to us.
As you can understand, the standards perfectionists place on us can affect us and create a lot of pressure. This can ultimately be very exhausting, hurtful, and even damage our relationships.
3 Real-Life Examples
Perfectionists are all around us. They might think they know what we want, even if they do not. And, they always have an opinion about our whereabouts, behaviours, decisions, and about our likes and dislikes. To better grasp how perfectionists affect us on a daily basis, let’s see some examples:
How To Manage and Deal with a Perfectionist
Perfectionists can make us feel as if we can never do anything right. They can exert a disproportionate amount of pressure that can be heartbreaking at times. So, let's start changing that, let's start setting some boundaries and learn how to deal with perfectionists in our lives.
1. Find what you value
If you want to learn how to manage the pressure perfectionists exert over you, the first step is to think about what it is that you value.
If you know what is important for you, then you can actually stand up for yourself. You can defend yourself, your values, and set boundaries with those that want to step on them. On the other hand, if you do not know what is important for you, it is much easier to comply and adjust to other people's standards. And, when you do this for a long time, you can end up feeling frustrated for doing what others feel important while neglecting your authentic needs and wishes.
So, in order to reverse that we have to go back to the beginning, find your values. In other words, find what is important for you in order to be happy, satisfied, and fulfilled. Find what matters to you.
Finding what matters to you
In order to find your values and discover what matters to you, it might be helpful to ask yourself the following questions:
For instance, if your house is messy and another person judges you for it, it becomes much easier for you to say that: "I'm sorry, this might be important for you, but it's not for me. This is not what I have set as a priority in my life. This is not what gives me joy. This is what gives you joy."
When you have a clear view of your values and what you want, nobody can tell you otherwise. Nobody can say no to your decision. Nobody can say you should not be happy that way, you should be happy this particular way. By asserting what your values are, you will become more confident when stating your boundaries with perfectionists.
2. Rethinking 'other' people
We often talk about other people's ideas and perfectionism, but who are these 'others'? When you say 'others will judge me' or 'other people's perfectionism', who are these 'others'? Let's define the 'others' and make it more specific.
Who are these others? Who are these people you fear will judge you? Is it somebody from your past? Perhaps a friend or a bully that judged you in the past? Is it maybe your parents or your teacher? Is it an important person in your current life? For instance, you might be thinking of your boss, mentor, coach, partner, or a family member. That is okay. Maybe these are indeed important people for you.
Now let me ask you another question. If these people are important in your life, why do you think that they would be so critical of you? Why do you think they will judge you for everything that you choose? Why do you believe that they will not accept you to such an extent where you must comply with all their expectations instead of being your own person?
Let's dig deeper. What do you think is an important person?
A person is entitled to be named as important in your life only if they take you as you are. If they understand you, if they know your priorities, and only if they contribute to your happiness and wellbeing. Otherwise, you are giving them space that they do not deserve.
But, most importantly, why do you think that their opinion is more important than yours? Why do you think that you have to have the same ideas and values about life? They can have their own standards and you can have yours while perfectly coexisting. Why do you spend so much time trying to figure out what they consider as important in order to see whether you fit in this standard?
These are all important questions that you can ask yourself in order to gradually become less sensitive to perfectionists' negative messages.
The Bottom Line
After some time, perfectionists' judgmental messages can become internalized in our minds and we might adopt all these high standards and rules as our own. That is, we might run the risk of becoming a perfectionist ourselves. If you are wondering whether you struggle with perfectionistic tendencies, take a look at this free guide.
I hope this article has been helpful and that you have learned a bit about how to manage the perfectionists that surround you. The keyword is boundaries, and to assert your boundaries, you must first introspect, discover what matters to you, and reassess what other people's opinions mean to you. Along your journey, remember, you are not alone. Take care.
How to Stop Perfectionism
How much of a Perfectionist Are You
From Conflict to Connection