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Remarkable
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Anyone else have this? I think I am a perfectionist to the point I won't even attempt to do things because of the fear I will not complete the task in a 100% perfect fashion. This can be something as minor as cleaning a room or something major like school/career type stuff. I first recall this happening when I was around 10 and quit a sport. SA is a factor in everything I do, but I think this may have more to do with expectations placed on me as a child or something.
 

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I've always been afraid to try things for fear of failure or embarrassment. I don't want any negative attention, real or perceived, so I'll do nothing rather than risk it. This fear of imperfection along with my social fears has definitely affected school/career type stuff, as well as just normal things that should be fun, but have to be tried to enjoy, or even trivial things like being unable to ask a simple question for fear I'll sound stupid or bother someone. As a kid, if I feared I couldn't do something well, I would avoid it. I've continued to avoid a whole lot my entire life, which has resulted in my not being able to do much, which of course only enhances my feelings of being less than. Intellectually I know it would be much more fun to at least try and maybe keep trying and become mediocre at something, than to do nothing because you fear you won't do it perfectly, but of course reality has never had much to do with my behavior. I don't really think my problem comes from expectations placed on me by anyone but myself though. I was overly sensitive as a kid and observed early on that kids do things like laugh at other kids if they strike out or don't catch the ball -- I basically paralyzed myself by becoming overly careful in avoiding any such attention. At some point in my little kid brain I made the decision to avoid anything I didn't think I could do well or could result in embarrassment, however minor -- that attitude unfortunately is quite a growth stunter for a human being.
 

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dazed and confused
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I can totally identify with that. I always seem to be dissatisfied with everything I do, whether it's drawing a picture or having a conversation or playing tennis. So I just don't do it, which leaves me feeling frustrated and angry with myself. I had extremely high expectations placed on me when I was a kid, too, as you said in your OP. Nothing I did was ever good enough. That could be a factor in being a chronic perfectionist.
 

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resident classicist
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I tend to completely psych myself out, to the point where I just have no desire to do anything, write essays, do projects, whatever. I just get so concerned that my point of view is idiotic or childlike, that Sartre would roll over in his grave if he read my existentialism paper, that I will fail with absolute certainty, etc.

So it's a combination of poor self-value and extreme perfectionism, for me.
 

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Yep. I have this exact problem. I've always had the attitude that if you can't do something right, don't even bother. It bugs the crap out of me when people do things half-assed because I think they should do it right or not at all.

And of course, this just about causes me to be catatonic because I'm so flippin' lazy I know I'll never finish anything I started. I eventually have to get any halfway done things I've started and never finished out of my sight or it'll drive me crazy. By that time, there are usually too many of them to actually try and finish them all. Occasionally, I'll pick just one thing and finish it spectacularly and get a real sense of accomplishment. And then, of course, this inspires me to think I can do things I really can't and I bite off way more than I can chew and just frustrate myself more.

Seriously. I've gone for days without shaving or washing my hair for fear that I won't do it right.
 

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dirt person
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I tend to completely psych myself out, to the point where I just have no desire to do anything, write essays, do projects, whatever. I just get so concerned that my point of view is idiotic or childlike, that Sartre would roll over in his grave if he read my existentialism paper, that I will fail with absolute certainty, etc.

So it's a combination of poor self-value and extreme perfectionism, for me.
^I can relate to this a lot.
 

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"Perfectionism that leads to Not Even Attempting to do anything" = Story of my life
 

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Yes. It's most serious in areas that are important to me, especially with things I was supposedly very good at earlier in life.
 

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Neurotic megalomaniac
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If you do something the best you can but leave it unfinished, you can't feel bad for not doing it right since you didn't complete it. Maybe if we convinced ourselves that if we take on a project we don't have to finish it - so write the essay the best you can but know that you'll be leaving out a word somewhere - that would eliminate some anxiety. In my mind if I know something will be incomplete it leaves the subject open to do with whatever I want, and that makes room for your personality over anxiety. Like when your neighbor gets mad at his leaves because he can't rake them into a pile so he leaves it up to you to "just do a better job than I did" and that eliminates the need to be perfect. If you had to rake your own yard, you wouldn't do it because it has to be perfect, there's too much formalism - every piece of the yard is required to be tended.
If we have permission to undertake what we want with the reassurance it won't be finished, we'll be freer to do them in our own way? In other words, taking out a piece of the perfect whole to make it flawed and no longer daunting.
 

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P4
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This reminds me about something about unlocking your potential. You're scared that your potential is very small and limited that you never even attempt to open it. Thus you can always dream about the you you can be, rather than reaffirm the possibility that your limit is actually fairly low. This is just something from a comedian, but it's worded funnier than this.

Anyways, I'm exactly the same, a mix of many of the above thoughts has left me a heavy HEAVY procrastinator. I used to be a prefectionalist too, especially at math in year 10 and lower. After that I realised I can't be perfect and my grades slipped badly because I stopped trying :( After the first slip it's so easy to fail again and again. I wish I could just try my best and be content with that, I know I can... at least fairly certain I could. But the problem with many failures is I don't know what my capabilities are anymore, and self doubt also prevents me from studying well .... gah, I hate the way I think.
 

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After the first slip it's so easy to fail again and again. I wish I could just try my best and be content with that, I know I can... at least fairly certain I could. But the problem with many failures is I don't know what my capabilities are anymore, and self doubt also prevents me from studying well ....
:ditto
 

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you call it prefectionism, in my case it was more like unreal lack of experience based high standards, I thought because I had no experience with things that they had to be a certain way, my whole view of reality was wrong
 

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Yep. I have this exact problem. I've always had the attitude that if you can't do something right, don't even bother. It bugs the crap out of me when people do things half-assed because I think they should do it right or not at all.

And of course, this just about causes me to be catatonic because I'm so flippin' lazy I know I'll never finish anything I started. I eventually have to get any halfway done things I've started and never finished out of my sight or it'll drive me crazy. By that time, there are usually too many of them to actually try and finish them all. Occasionally, I'll pick just one thing and finish it spectacularly and get a real sense of accomplishment. And then, of course, this inspires me to think I can do things I really can't and I bite off way more than I can chew and just frustrate myself more.

Seriously. I've gone for days without shaving or washing my hair for fear that I won't do it right.
I can relate to most of that. Especially the part about things attempted halfway/unfinished. If I see a reminder of it I go crazy. Then get one thing done, feel on top of the world and then take on too much and screw myself up!

Regarding the bolded bit: I am 100% like that. I've even had a go at people in my family for not doing the dishes properly or cleaning things properly and told them if they can't do it right then freekin don't bother doing it at all! Surely it can't be the proper way to think!

I swear I'd love to have a camera filming me going about things. It'll show so many times where I take forever to do things because my mind wanders or is deep in thought and pre-occupies itself with other meaningless crap and not the task at hand.

"Perfectionism that leads to Not Even Attempting to do anything" = Story of my life
Totally agree. It could be anything, mowing the lawn, cleaning, sending a text message. I ruminate over and over and try to make it 100% right. It definately makes me fail to see the bigger picture and miss out on alot.

Other people seem so spontaneous and carefree yet I seem stuck at 1st base!
 

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That's been my motto for the past few years: "Either I do it completely right, or don't even bother trying to do it at all". This has always backfired on me, with a long trail of things that I could/should have done, like relationships, friendships, projects, jobs, travel, etc. It's a bad mix of procrastination and perfectionism.

I guess I should make realise that there's no such thing as a 'perfect' time to do something - there's no time like the present! Also I will never get a 100% outcome, no matter how hard I work on it, or how much I stress I put myself through - I should stop worrying so much about trying and failing, and be content with the things that I CAN do well.
 

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I guess I should make realise that there's no such thing as a 'perfect' time to do something - there's no time like the present! Also I will never get a 100% outcome, no matter how hard I work on it, or how much I stress I put myself through - I should stop worrying so much about trying and failing, and be content with the things that I CAN do well.
The thing about that is that kind of "positive thinking" crap never works for me. I'm smart enough to logically know perfection isn't really possible in anything. The trouble is that just like SA, the need for absolute perfection in everything is completely irrational and it's entirely possible to know that and still not be able to change the thought process. Just knowing it isn't rational isn't enough.
 

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The thing about that is that kind of "positive thinking" crap never works for me. I'm smart enough to logically know perfection isn't really possible in anything. The trouble is that just like SA, the need for absolute perfection in everything is completely irrational and it's entirely possible to know that and still not be able to change the thought process. Just knowing it isn't rational isn't enough.
I think the need for perfection, in my case, started off as something rational, but it has now turned into an irrational mindset.

I was always overly self-critical, ever since I can remember. That's probably something I picked up from my family when I was younger, as they always liked to criticize people. The people who were most criticized were those people who aimed high and failed miserably.

And so I grew up with that mindset a lot, and I kept reminding myself never to over-extend myself or reach beyond what I was capable of. The ironic thing is there were a lot of things that I could've reached for and gotten, but I was always too afraid, in case I failed. It also has a lot to do with feeling self-conscious, thinking that there are people out there watching my every move, waiting for me to fail so they could say I told you so.

So unless I knew I could do it 100%, I just didn't try. But for the things I did try, I would put 100% of my effort into it.

I still think I need to do more of that, try more often, even if at the risk of failure. I need to try to undo my mindset. I want to start little by little, take on small things and then hopefully gradually build up from there. I know it won't be a smooth transition, and most of it will be one-step-forward-two-steps-back movements, but I still ought to try.
 

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subtastic
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Oh man, this is so me. I agonize over everything I hand in at school because I'm afraid of handing in something awful. I can just see the professor reading it over and saying, "This person is an idiot."

The thing about that is that kind of "positive thinking" crap never works for me.
Actually, a recent study found that positive thinking works well for people with high self-esteem, but not so well for those without: http://scienceblogs.com/notrocketsc...ive_thinking_-_why_positive_messages_hurt.php
 

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Actually, a recent study found that positive thinking works well for people with high self-esteem, but not so well for those without: http://scienceblogs.com/notrocketsc...ive_thinking_-_why_positive_messages_hurt.php
Well, we can go around in circles from now on with this stuff. It all comes back to what I said. Just knowing something doesn't change the way your mind works unless you really never had that serious of a problem in the first place. Poor self-esteem works the same way for people who have whatever this problem is. It's just there and I can't change it just because I want to (even if I know it's not rational). There have been times when my self esteem was OK (Not great but OK) and the positive thinking junk still didn't work. My self esteem wasn't always terrible. It got this way from decades of thinking positively and being proved wrong every time.
 

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The trouble is that just like SA, the need for absolute perfection in everything is completely irrational and it's entirely possible to know that and still not be able to change the thought process. Just knowing it isn't rational isn't enough.
I completely agree that your knowledge and your feelings don't always match!
I also think though, that with work, you can change false beliefs and irrational thinking. You can do this through CBT with a therapist, or by testing and challenging your beliefs in the real world, or by writing down why those beliefs are irrational and checking that list often.
 

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Yeah I have that. I don't think it's anything to do with expectations placed on me as a child because I didn't really have any. Maybe the teachers at school told me I was quite bright but it was nothing over-the-top, and I didn't have overbearing parents or anything like that. Like every other weird foible I have, it doesn't seem to have a root in anything. It's just there and I have no excuse.

This perfectionist thing is why I would leave all my essays so late to write. I wouldn't do them until the deadline was looming and I absolutely had to. Then I would have the excuse that, if it wasn't perfect, the reason was because I hadn't spent enough time on it, and not because I'm stupid. See, I kind of know I'm stupid, but I don't want actual validation of the fact, like a terrible grade on an essay I've put a lot of effort into.

It's the same with everything. If I don't put the effort in then any failure is a result of lack of effort rather than stupidity. And if I don't try at all, then I can never fail. But I can never succeed either so...I'm just left in limbo.
:ditto
 
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