I always had extremely high standards for myself, since social anxiety was holding me back from so much in my life I felt like I had to be perfect in every other aspect not related to socializing. If we were learning a new software at work, I needed to master it before anyone else.
Even when I was having success in some areas of my life, I would only focus on my failures. I was socially anxious and would avoid talking to people for fear of being judged. I was so hard on myself. Even when other people were giving me compliments on something I had accomplished I would pay them no mind, thinking that they were just trying to be nice.
Procrastination was part of my everyday life, when I had to do a speech in Toastmasters I would way until the last minute. Giving a speech made me feel anxious, so I was trying to do something else instead to take my mind off it, but I would end up thinking about the speech and not do anything else. Since I was procrastinating my speeches were not as good as the could have been if I had started earlier and it made me feel bad about myself.
What is perfectionism?
Perfectionism, in psychology, is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high performance standards, accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.
Many researchers have found a link between perfectionism and anxiety, especially social anxiety.
Signs you might be a perfectionist with social anxiety
1. You avoid social situation
You want to make new friends but are afraid of people judging you, so you don’t attempt to talk to new people. You refuse to try new things because you fear that you won’t be able to achieve the success you want.
2. You don’t acknowledge your success
You think that your success is just luck; that you could have done better. You only think about what you could improve instead of celebrating your achievements.
3. You have low self-esteem
You are self-critical and think that you are inadequate and despicable. You push people away because you don’t want them to see your flaws.
How to deal with perfectionism when you have social anxiety
- Set lower standards for yourself
Be mindful of your self-talk, if your internal thoughts are always negative towards yourself you need to recognize your thoughts pattern and change it to something positive. You should not say things to yourself that you would not say to your friends. Instead of saying: ‘’I am a not good enough, nobody loves me’’ try saying things like ‘’I am deeply loved by my family and friends’’.
2. Set realistic goals
Avoiding social situations will only make you more anxious in the long run. Try to find a way to engage in social situations at least once a week. Start with something small depending on your comfort level, like reaching out to a friend or trying to make a new friend. Do not forget to celebrate your success, even the smallest step is a step in the right direction.
3. Learn to be imperfect
If you feel the need to be perfectly styled every time you go out, try to put yourself in an uncomfortable situation and go out in joggings without makeup or fixing your hair. Send an e-mail that includes a few mistakes, instead of re-reading 50 times before sending it.
If you take action, your perfectionism and social anxiety can be manageable. You have to accept yourself as an imperfect person like the rest of the world. If you need more help, join my community where I’ll be sharing more techniques to overcome loneliness and fear of communicating with others, by showing you how to communicate better in your interpersonal and professional relationships, to have the social life and the career you want.