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What are the causes of perfectionism?

Have you ever wondered where your perfectionist tendencies stem from?


In my work with high-achievers, I typically see six primary sources of perfectionism:


1️⃣ Positive reinforcement: Many of us adopt a perfectionist mindset due to the rewards, validation, or acceptance we receive when we operate in a perfectionist manner.


2️⃣ Protection from pain: Perfectionism can develop as a response to trauma or as a mechanism to avoid rejection and maintain control amidst chaos in our lives.


3️⃣ Triggering life events: Major life events such as moving to a new country or school, becoming a parent, losing a loved one, or living through a global pandemic can intensify our perfectionist patterns.


4️⃣ Role models and societal influences: The impact of social media cannot be understated. It significantly contributes to the prevalence of perfectionism today, as do the norms we see modeled within our family, cultural, educational, professional, or religious communities.


5️⃣ Racism or discrimination: Structural inequality places additional burdens on women, particularly women of color, leading to the experience of needing to perform twice as perfectly or work twice as hard to secure a seat at the table.


6️⃣ Genetic factors: No surprise here! Research suggests that genetics may play a role in up to 40% of how our perfectionism manifests itself.


It's worth noting that our perfectionism may arise from one or several of these sources.


What do I want you to take away from this? That it makes SO much sense that we have developed perfectionist patterns for the reasons we have. These patterns have served an important purpose in our lives!


But you are in a position to start to question whether perfectionism is still serving you in the way that it first did when you developed it. You have the power to choose which aspects of perfectionism you wish to retain and which ones are weighing you down, causing you to get stuck in a cycle you don’t want to be in.


I hope you choose to join the growing number of high-achievers peeling back the onion, learning to unwind the patterns that have been programmed into us over time.

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