Perfectionism and Anxiety: Are They Related?
Have people told you that you have perfectionism and anxiety? These two problems can combine to make many problems for you. They can create problems not only for you but for the people you love. It’s worth the time investment to speak with a Christian counselor about these two problems and get the practical help you need for dealing with them.
Perfectionism and Anxiety
Not all perfectionism is bad. A level of perfectionism is good in highly specialized situations, such as a doctor in surgery, a pilot flying a plane, or a plumber fixing a leak. These people need to be at the top of their game to do the best job that they can do. A bit of perfectionism helps them reach their maximum potential.
Anxiety, by contrast, is not a fruitful feeling. It can distract you from the good in your life and put the brakes on your full potential. Anxiety steals your peace of mind and makes things more difficult for you, especially if you are anxious about pursuing a perfectionistic goal.
The problem is that perfectionism can be destructive, especially when combined with anxiety. These two problems can cause issues in relationships, motivation, or self-worth, and can lead to depression, addiction, or self-harm. When you speak with a compassionate counselor about these problems you can learn to manage them in healthy ways.
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Perfectionism
Many of us are born with a tendency toward perfectionism. Someone who has a healthy level of perfectionism feels that doing their best is rewarding. They experience a great deal of satisfaction in their work and feel good about serving others with a commitment to high quality.
Someone who has healthy perfectionism will welcome challenges without needing to run over others. They will celebrate others’ success with genuine gladness. A healthy perfectionist will not need the praise of others to feel worthy but will feel validated and affirmed based on their own efforts.Unhealthy perfectionism is tied to a vicious inner critic. This critical voice is often formed internally during childhood. It tells the perfectionist that they are never good enough and will not amount to anything. Often this voice develops as a reaction to parents or authority figures who had elevated expectations. Certain personality types may have a stronger inner critic than others.
Anxiety often affects someone with unhealthy perfectionism. The perfectionist will be driven by anxiety in their excessive work and demanding standards, always wondering if their performance will be sufficient. This can cause them to procrastinate or give up when they worry their efforts will be in vain.
Anxiety can drive a perfectionist to clean with fervor, strive for a perfect attendance record, exercise in excess, be meticulous about dress and appearance, take curb appeal to the next level, or any other actions based on fear of condemnation.
This anxiety may not just affect professionals but also extend to others with unrealistic expectations. This could cause people to get angry or distance themselves from the relationship, isolating the person suffering from perfectionism and leading to even more problems.
Overcoming Perfectionism and Anxiety
To overcome perfectionism and anxiety, you must address the sources of your problems. You can get help from a compassionate Christian counselor who will guide you as you identify the critical and condescending messages from your inner critic or others. With the counselor’s help, you’ll also identify your anxiety triggers and learn how they started. You’ll uncover the roots of the problems so that you can start dismantling them.
For both perfectionism and anxiety, you will need to reframe your thinking patterns. Perfectionists can be very hard on themselves, even concerning their own levels of anxiety. When you hear the inner critic, you can say “today I’m doing the best I can and that’s good enough.”
When you hear the voice singing anxiety, you can say “I’m trusting in God who has all things under control.” If the temptation to procrastinate beckons, you can say “I’m going to tackle this for ten minutes and see what happens.”
This process of reframing your thinking patterns will take time and practice. If you devote yourself to this for thirty days, you will start to see a big difference. You will feel more in control of your thoughts and feelings, and you will likely have less conflict and frustration with others.
Your loved ones will see your efforts and will begin cheering you on. Of course, your counselor will be rooting for you, supporting you with validation, affirmation, prayer, and biblical principles.
If you have dealt with perfectionism and anxiety for a long time, it’s important to remember it will take a good amount of effort and time to overcome. But you aren’t on your own in this. God will help you because he wants you to overcome in both areas. Your counselor will also be a great help to you, and it’s good for you to lean on Christian friends and family who can support you in your recovery process.
Bible Verses to Help You Overcome Perfectionism and Anxiety
You can speak the truth of scripture over yourself to overcome perfectionism and anxiety. As you meditate on these verses, think about replacing the negative messages in your mind with the lifegiving messages from the Bible.
You don’t have to prove your worth to God, because he called you fearfully and wonderfully made before you were ever born. If you ever feel anxious because you don’t know if God loves you, read the entire Psalm 139 for affirmation of your priceless worth in God’s eyes.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. – Psalm 139:14, NIV
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20, NIV
You have the power to overcome perfectionism and anxiety because Christ lives in you. He will give you the strength and ability to overcome these problem areas as you receive his grace and guidance in your life. Because you are crucified with Christ, God can help you choose a different future full of life and peace.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. – Romans 8:1-2, NIV
Many perfectionists who struggle with anxiety feel a sense of condemnation. But if you follow Jesus, you have no more condemnation hanging over your head. His Holy Spirit sets you free from condemnation for your sins.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7, NIV
This is one of the best verses you can use when you feel anxious. It’s a call to action, telling you to use prayer and gratitude to fight back. As you seek God in prayer and show his gratitude to show your gratitude for what he’s done in your life, he will give you peace that cannot be explained outside of his work.
Need more help overcoming perfectionism and anxiety? A Christian counselor is ready to help you. Contact us today to set up your first appointment.
“Put on a Happy Face”, Courtesy of Sydney Sims, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “How Are You Really?”, Courtesy of Finn, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Practice Makes Perfect”, Courtesy of Brett Jordan, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Overwhelmed”, Courtesy of Nik Shuliahin, Unsplash.com, CC0 License