Did you answer the questions from my previous post? If so, how was that for you? What did you learn? Whether you answered them or not, perfectionists often have some common distorted thoughts such as these:
- Should statements. You criticize yourself and others using ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ especially in regard to your own standards.
- Selective attention. Otherwise known as ‘tunnel vision’. You pay attention to only particular aspects of a situation and somehow you always come out on the losing end.
- Discounting the positives. You insist your positive qualities don’t count and your accomplishments are not good enough.
- Mental filter. You pay attention to only the perceived negatives of a situation and ignore or screen out the neutrals or positives.
- All or nothing thinking. Also known as ‘black or white thinking’. You view things in absolute terms as if there are only two categories that can fit into your life. This is a very common thinking pattern that people get stuck in and is incredibly limiting. Now matter what the situation may be, you are only giving yourself two options of how it could go.
- Catastrophizing. You think the worst possible outcome for a situation is most likely what will happen with most situations in life. You keep playing out in your mind all your extreme worries and ‘what-ifs’, creating the worst case scenarios you can imagine.
- Overgeneralizing. You view one negative event as an ongoing pattern that will never change. You take a single mistake or flaw and turn it into a character judgement against your or someone else. The words ‘always’ and ‘never’ are red flags that you are overgeneralizing.
- Jumping to conclusions. This involves modes of thinking that are guaranteed to induce stress, shame, and anxiety.
- Mind reading. You make an assumption that others are, or will be, judging you negatively.
- Fortune telling. Also known as ‘predictive thinking’. You act as if you have a crystal ball that sees the future and you predict that things will almost always go badly- and that you will not be able to handle the negative outcome you are sure is going to happen.
- Labeling. This form of self-criticism is often closely tied to the standards and expectations you place on yourself and others. It can piggy back on your ‘should’ statements. You take a mistake or perceived flaw and turn it into a negative facet of your identity. This crushes your self-esteem and interferes with relationships with others.
- Emotional reasoning. Your reason based on how you are feeling in the moment, in other words, you view situations based on how you feel instead of objective facts. You may assume that things will go a certain way based on your emotions too. The problem is our feelings are actually poor predictors of any actual outcomes.
- Personalization. You take complete responsibility and blame yourself for things that were not entirely under your control. You overlook other people’s involvement in a situation and external factors that contributed to it, and assume it is all your fault if it doesn’t go perfectly or according to plan.
- Minimizing. You are quick to dismiss your own efforts and devalue yourself.
- Double standards. You hold yourself to standards you would never expect anyone else to meet and are exceptionally hard on yourself for most typical day-to-day things.
Whew!! That’s a lot of inaccurate thinking! Make an appointment with me to learn how to change these distorted thoughts to realistic, positive ones.