Perfectionism is ruining my life!!! - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-23-2005, 06:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I over think everything. I over catergorize. Over analyze.

I can't seem to stop it! It has been controlling my life since I was a
little girl.

I always feel like a failure....I could of/ should of done better!

My house is a disaster, but my pfs are organized by size, material, and color!

I can't just clean...I have to sort it in piles for hours. Then I never finish because I get so tired.

In school....never finished my homework, aced every test.

On top of this I have SEVERE attention problems!!!

Please help! Tell me what I can do to get my life back for the first time! I am so exhausted and depressed right now.

Anyone else struggling with this?

I feel so alone!!!

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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Old 01-23-2005, 07:42 PM
 
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You're not alone at all. And I don't know that I would call it Perfectionism. I would call it searching for security. I am the same way, however I am organized. There was a time where I was not about 7 years ago. I started getting organized about 6 years ago after a very yucky event in my life and now I'm so organized and good at it that I help others do it! Laugh.

First, Don't be so hard on yourself!

Second, Pick something that is important that you want to work on and work on it alittle at a time. May be getting a drawer organized, or a bookshelf, the mail. Or it may not even start in your home.. It may be time related. Write out a routine for your day and try to stick to it. If you fail, try again the next! For cleaning, Set a timer for 15 mins. Work on something for only 15 mins. and stop. Do something else. Then do it over again. Do it at a time that you have the most energy. On your down time, TAKE CARE OF YOU! Don't think about everything at once. You'll get too overwhelmed and exhausted! Do what you can when you can and reward yourself. Don't think to yourself that you didn't get enough done. Think to yourself.. "It's a start"!

Change your thoughts about yourself. The moment you realize you're being hard on yourself change your thought to something positive. It's hard to do at first but keep doing it and it'll start to change you.

You're not alone. Huge hugs!
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Old 01-23-2005, 08:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you! I do have to change my thoughts.

It kinda stems from thinking I am getting somewhere and having the people closest to me be disappointed that I didn't do enough.

I would try to explain my thought process. They would just say that
I was lazy and unmotivated.

They don't realize that I really do try. Their critism just makes things harder because I tend to shut down.

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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Old 01-23-2005, 08:56 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AngelBee
Thank you! I do have to change my thoughts.

It kinda stems from thinking I am getting somewhere and having the people closest to me be disappointed that I didn't do enough.

I would try to explain my thought process. They would just say that
I was lazy and unmotivated.

They don't realize that I really do try. Their critism just makes things harder because I tend to shut down.
Once you start to change the way you feel about yourself others will start noticing the difference and not talk down to you or as if they are disappointed. Not to mention you won't think they are unless they say it! I used to think I always disappointed people and usually that wasn't the case it was me thinking that. You are far from lazy and unmotivated if you are concerned about it! That's for sure. You are taking too much on in your thought process. Once you change the way you think about yourself you'll become more able to deal with those thoughts and make better decisions. When you have too much going on in your head it's very hard to make decisions and it gets to the point where you start to do nothing because it becomes so overwhelming for you. I was the same way. I would shut down and just let things happen around me. Usually it ended up badly if I didn't communicate. Especially to myself in a caring way. If you're hard on yourself you can expect others to follow along with that even if they don't realize they are doing it. Unless they really understand you which is a rare find unless they've been through it! I know where you are coming from in this and I do have to say it does get better.

One thing I didn't realize and it won't feel good to read this... but when you're hard on yourself you make choices that are not only bad for you but bad for those you care for and love. I learned this the hard way as most do.

Change your thought process and things will go better for you and those around you. You can't make everyone happy, but it's important to start with yourself and you'll find the energy after a bit to do the other stuff and make decisions on what to start next!

Reward yourself for what you can do in a day and never beat yourself up for what you didn't complete.

you're worth it!
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Old 01-23-2005, 09:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much!

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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Old 01-31-2005, 02:04 AM
 
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Yes, I struggle with perfectionism too. I have a difficult time making decisions and completing projects and I develop anxiety about the smallest crap. I was exactly like you in school - I would procrastinate and still do well. I was an A student, but it involved alot of grief on my part. I make an effort to talk back to my "perfectionist ideals" alot - that does help.

Cognitive therapy helps too. I think the best cognitive therapy book is "Feeling Good" by David Burns.

Have you ever done therapy? I think it helps to have someone to talk to - it helps you realize how crazy some of your perfectionist demands are and how you make things harder for yourself. Hey, I still do it, but at least I catch myself earlier.

Another book that I love is called "It's About Time: The 6 Styles of Procrastination and How to Overcome Them" by Dr. Linda Sapadin. She writes about The Perfectionist and what stops us from making decisions (FEAR!) and how to deal with it. She ever gives guided meditations and exercises - it is a great book.

Also, I have used self hypnosis tapes (you can get them at Borders or Barnes and Noble) and I think they are really useful. I have one that is about how to deal with worry and anxiety - it can't hurt and for me it has been a good way to replace the negative ruminating thoughts of perfectionism.

Lastly, I set some goals for myself one year as New Year's resolutions and I still come back to those goals. They were 1) Strive for a B+, not an A;
2) Just complete the project - getting it done on time is better than getting it done perfectly (and late); 3) Have fun! I have to remind myself about these goals all the time.

Hang in there - be gentle with yourself. I think ALOT of women in our culture suffer from perfectionism. It's a cultural problem - we are sent messages since we are young girls to be perfect, look good, act nice, be smart, be clean, be organized, etc. We are constantly sold the message that other women ARE managing everything and managing it well. Hmmm, really?? I don't know any of these women in real life. Real people I know don't manage to do it all perfectly all the time.

Be gentle with yourself.
Kathleen
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Old 01-31-2005, 03:14 AM
 
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Great advice!

How are you doing OP?
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Old 02-13-2005, 11:35 AM
 
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AngelBee I so understand. I am practically paralyzed by perfectionism.
Growing up with an abusive father I could never please (he used to tell me things like "you're not worth the bullet it would take to blow you away") and then an eight year marriage to an abusive husband (nothing I did was EVER good enough for him) only reinforced my natural tendency towards perfectionism. I also have a very dear friend who is always telling people what a genius I am, so talented ect. Instead of thanking my lucky stars that there is someone in my life who thinks so highly of me I freak out because I feel like I can never realy live up to her glowing description of me. I can't seem to win either way.
My mother is always telling me to strive for "good enough", but I can't bring myself to lower my standards, I have always strived for excellence.
As for organizing, I think it is a way, at least for me, to have some semblence of control over my life. I realized this after I left my husband this spring and moved into my own apartment. I would organize for hours, getting high off it like some sort of neat closet junky. I would call my mom over in tears to watch the kids because I had undertaken some monumental reorganization that I just couldn't bear to tear myself away from.
I think that to a large degree the state of our surroundings is a pretty good indicator as to the state of our minds. In my home most of it is usually pretty tidy, but there is always one room that is a chaotic pigstye. The result of trying to control entropy I think. I try to banish disorder and it all squeezes into one place but I can't seem to get rid of it entirely. And I think I now know why. Controlling your environment is always doomed to failure, the only thing that realy works is to get into the flow, attaining harmony. Much easier said than done of course.
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Old 02-13-2005, 11:51 AM
 
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Yogamom that was a great post! I'm going to get that procrastination book. Probably next month... :LOL

AngelBee, maybe you could channel your organizational and perfectionist tendancies into a profession! I read you op and was like "she would make a great book indexer!" Pm me if you ever want to know more. Gotta run
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Old 02-13-2005, 12:11 PM
 
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"Never good enough : freeing yourself from the chains of perfectionism"
Monica Ramirez Basco

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.  ~Albert Einstein
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Old 05-16-2005, 04:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Still struggling with this...

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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Old 05-16-2005, 08:42 AM
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Hiya there, I am a recovering perfectionist you might say!

When I was much younger, my perfectionism showed itself in the form of complete disarray and disorganization..but then as I got older, it began showing itself in the form of some OCD-like behavior which is the other side of the scale and just as unpleasant...

It was never REALLY bad but it was at the point where it was making my life not that much fun...
..so I began rewiring my brain. For instance, now I will intentionally say, leave an empty glass on a table and tell myself I can put it in the sink later...and kind of force myself to walk by it for an hour or 2, before putting it in the sink...
...or if I am working on a craft project or painting...I will force myself to leave it for a day or 2 (instead of staying up to all hours finishing it like a nut) ....

Things like that over the last couple of years (bad examples but it is still early :LOL) have helped me a lot and I am so much better now...

Picture Monica on friends as far as organization and cleaning..but not funny...that is how I became...but again, I have gotten SO much better due to my own *conditioning* and rewiring my brain in an intentional, deliberate way...

hey, I couldn't afford therapy :LOL
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Old 05-29-2005, 04:17 AM
 
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You should also look into resources for ADD, because you sound like a classic case. I say this because I am inclined towards the same form of ADD, although more mildly.
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Old 06-01-2005, 11:57 AM
 
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Simplicity, I too am a recovering perfectionist and I have noticed a pattern in my life - when I am happiest, I don't stress that the hand towels aren't folded in neat thirds, or that my husband's side of the vanity mirror is covered in miniscule food and toothpaste particles, even though I just cleaned it yesterday. When I am happiest, I can let these things go. Your phrase, "searching for security" really struck me - that is exactly it! The insecure me hides beneath the perfectionist mask. It is almost as if I need the praise and admiration of running a tight household, of throwing the best birthday party, of sending the most thoughtful gifts and letters - for security. And when I'm really stressed out, I need to feel control over my environment - as if I were the goddess of dust - directing all the unsightly particles to fall in my neighbors houses, rather than my own. I just wanted to thank you for this new perspective on my life.
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Old 06-01-2005, 02:32 PM
 
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AngelBee first of all you are NOT alone in your feelings.
Second you are not "lazy and unmotivated", you know this, don't
think about what others think right now
.
Third there are some who are perfectionist because they want to,
or the world tells them they need to be, but for some it's a illness
and professional help is needed (not forever, but to get back on track).


My own situation is two fold, one being my self esteem and feeling
like if I have everything organized in my home then my life will reflect
that. Two I am blessed with bipolar (took me awhile to count that
one as a blessing ) and OCD tendencies come along with the ride.
I am also overcompensating for not wanting to become my Mother, who
also lived with mental illness but would never acknowledge it. Part of her
illness was collecting, not keeping up with housework, it wasn't dirty
but it was very weird. When I moved out of my parents house and
came back to visit I found that my Mother had collected so much that
not only was my room packed (you could not enter the room, not even
a path) but she had done the same to the guest room.
Have you ever thought about therapy. It's helped me more that I
could have ever imagined. I learned cognitive behavior therapy. Have
you ever really thought about why you allow perfectionism to run your
life. For some I think it is healthy this is how they like their life, but
when your becoming depressed it's something bigger.
Something else that has helped me is to give myself a time limit. If
I decide to organize an area I first have to say to myself "You will only
work on this for 2 hours, if you aren't done then you will have to do
more later". If I don't I could possibly sit there all day and continue
all night till I am done. I also have to get over the fact that it might
be organized but to let go of perfect. Cause I will sit there and focus
on one item for up to an hour.
When I was making my dd's invitations for her b-day party I could have
spent HOURS deciding on colors, pics, etc. I gave myself a half hour,
and that was that.
My breaking point was finding myself scrubbing the kitchen floor on my
hands and knees at 2am, and actually thinking that when I was done
I would be happy. I am happier when my home is organized cause I
like to know where things are, BUT having a clean and organized home
will not make me happy. Make sense?
The best advice I can give is to search out books (like yogamama
suggested) or start therapy. Second is to clean up the piles you talk
about, giving yourself permission to not have it be perfect, but put
away in a timely fashion. Start slow, and don't over analyze it.
I have had both perfection and attention problems since I was a child
and I feel that in my twenties (turning 30 soon) : that I have come
to a place where my perfectionism doesn't rule my life.
I send healing energy, and I hope you can keep us updated

-Janna, independent mother of dd, Ms. Mattie Sky born on my 25th birthday, 06*23*2000. My Mama Feb.21,1938-Sept.10,2006
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Old 06-03-2005, 02:14 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saralynn
Simplicity, I too am a recovering perfectionist and I have noticed a pattern in my life - when I am happiest, I don't stress that the hand towels aren't folded in neat thirds, or that my husband's side of the vanity mirror is covered in miniscule food and toothpaste particles, even though I just cleaned it yesterday. When I am happiest, I can let these things go. Your phrase, "searching for security" really struck me - that is exactly it! The insecure me hides beneath the perfectionist mask. It is almost as if I need the praise and admiration of running a tight household, of throwing the best birthday party, of sending the most thoughtful gifts and letters - for security. And when I'm really stressed out, I need to feel control over my environment - as if I were the goddess of dust - directing all the unsightly particles to fall in my neighbors houses, rather than my own. I just wanted to thank you for this new perspective on my life.


This sounds very familiar to me! Well said, mama.
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Old 06-05-2005, 07:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for your support and encouragement. :

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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Old 06-11-2005, 09:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hiya! Just wanted to let you know that I start counciling on Wednesday! :

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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Old 06-11-2005, 11:35 PM
 
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Congratulations! I hope you find a great counselor who can help you return to a state of happiness.
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Old 06-19-2005, 09:27 PM
 
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Angelbee, you are SO not alone. I read your post and had to look at the name like "did I write that?" It so looks like my life.

My house is a disaster zone. I can't bring myself to clean it most the time, because I know I don't have the time to do it right so I just figure it's easier to not do it. Everyone at work though thinks my house must be a show house, because EVERYTHING on my desk is perfect. I can ALWAYS tell when someone has used my stapler or borrowed a pen, because they are not back in the right spot. I always feel like a freak lol

90% of the time I come home from work at night and have to wash the required dishes in order to make dinner because every dish in the house is dirty. I have a 13 year old daughter who I KNOW is capable of doing these dishes, but they are always still dirty when she is done, and it drives me bonkers so I just don't let her do dishes. I try so hard to overcome it but it frustrates me more to pull what I think is a clean dish out of the cupboard and find out that I have to wash it anyways. I would just rather wash it myself. Some nights I just won't make dinner because I don't feel like washing anything.

There is so much good advice here, and I think I may pick up one of the books yogamoma suggeted!!

I like you, felt the same way like I was alone in this. Everyone I know always has a clean, organized and neat house and I can't EVER have people over because I am so embarrased. It is even spilling into my daughters life. She sees that the rest of the house isn't clean, so why should she clean her room. (mind your her room is WAY worse than the rest of the house, I have just given up and started closing her door )

I have tried the timers, the schedules, the wall planners etc., etc. I just don't know what else to do. I will pick up the books and see how they go!!

Angelbee keep us updated!!! Maybe you can PM me and we can try to help each other
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Old 06-19-2005, 09:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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tiredmum

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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Old 07-08-2005, 07:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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UPDATE #2: I am continuing the counciling. It has helped me to feel empowered and less stressed.

I also was diagnosed on Tues with severe ADHD. (More conclusive results will be coming with in the month)

It is kind of a sigh of relief to know for sure.....but somewhat discouraging. With severe ADHD the best mothod of treatment is life long medication.

I am breastfeeding Angelo and will not wean until he chooses to. Also..I had planned on having more children. Kind of a bummer situation.

The good news? Dh is being really supportive. Tonight we are going on a "date" to discuss a meal plan that will help with my ADHD. We are also coming up with a strict schrdule for the house. : The kids are excited too and said mama do not worry....we are a team! :

I wanted to thank you all for your kind words and encouragement. It meants alot to me!

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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Old 07-29-2005, 04:23 AM
 
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I just wanted to add my support and solidarity, AngelBee. I have struggled with perfectionism for most of my life, but it's only recently that I actually realized that the problem is something I need to work on, rather than simply a personality trait I have to live with. A pp mentioned the book
"Never good enough : freeing yourself from the chains of perfectionism"
Monica Ramirez Basco
and I want to second the recommendation. It has a lot of useful exercises that helps you analyze the type of perfectionist you are, explore the likely causes and reinforcements, and then lay out practical personal strategies to cope. It helped me recognize that some long-standing issues (like how long it takes for me to get out the door) are directly related to my perfectionism. Another revelation was that it explained how perfectionists tend to "catastrophize," that is, imagine horrible consequences stemming from minor stressful circumstances. Oh dear, that is so me. Since perfectionists also tend to oversimplify, the exercises help you to break down and analyze situations to arrive at a more accurate understanding and therefore more realistic ways of responding. This can help to overcome the tendency to avoid a situation altogether because a perfectionist might feel it's too overwhelming or guilt-inducing.

Since I guess I risk sounding like an ad for the book, I will add that I wouldn't be a perfectionist if I didn't also mention that Basco's book is not perfect There are a few simple grammatical mistakes and stylistic errors, which were frankly annoying, esp given the target audience! But I half-suspect that they were left there deliberately in order to show the readers that one does not have to be perfect to be of considerable worth and make a contribution.

Anyway, i bought it as a remainder, and it sat on my shelf for several months. I picked it up earlier the summer and wished I had discovered it sooner.

I do think that in general perfectionism is a problem that is not taken seriously, but it can be very debilitating and isolating. People can say so casually, "Stop being such a perfectionist" without realizing that such behavior is often an expression of very deep-seated fears or beliefs. I think that's the value of the cognitive-therapy approach, that it helps you come to realize the fears and beliefs that are motivating your actions, often unwittingly. Good luck with this AB, and thanks for the thread and reaching out.
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