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Three perfectionist orientations

Did you know that perfectionism typically takes one of three orientations?

→ Self-Oriented Perfectionism: This is the tendency to hold ourselves to very high standards. These standards are self-identified, and are often standards we do not hold others to. Self-oriented perfectionists can be highly self-critical.

→ Socially Prescribed Perfectionism: This is the belief that others around us – either specific individuals or society at large – are holding us to impossibly high standards, and that we must meet these standards. Socially prescribed perfectionists often experience higher levels of anxiety and lower levels of confidence.

→ Other-Oriented Perfectionism: This is the tendency to hold others around us to the highest of standards, whether at work or in our personal lives. This type of perfectionism can lead us to be overly critical of others and experience regular disappointment or frustration.

While research shows that all types of perfectionism have increased over the past several decades, levels of socially prescribed perfectionism have increased most significantly, especially among younger generations. This type of perfectionism is also associated with some of the most damaging mental health outcomes.

What do you believe your perfectionist orientation is? It may be one of these or all of these. Becoming more aware of how we orient our perfectionism is an important first step in starting to reduce some of the unwanted patterns associated with it.

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