“Perfectionism is driven by fear and is different than the drive for excellence, perfectionism is a form of protection, it’s a protective barrier that keeps us from vulnerability.”
Dr. Brené Brown
Perfectionism needs to be mentioned because it is lauded in society on many levels, particularly with regards the body, body image and body representation. Perfectionism can be a problem that affects adolescents functioning directly and is associated with a variety of mental health problems including depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, chronic fatigue and eating disorders (Roz Shafran, 2012). Whether it’s eating disorders, suicidal ideation, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue or obsessive-compulsive issues; teenagers can become compulsive quite quickly. All of us struggle on that range of healthy versus unhealthy perfectionism.
Some adolescents are driven by very high standards, afraid of mistakes and fearful of disappointing others. It can be characterized by an over-thoroughness, repeated-checking, multi-tasking, striving and achieving the next thing or the next sporting achievement. This is represented by an “All or nothing kind of thinking”, driven by a fear of failure. Underneath it all, what we really want is to know that we are worthy and that we belong. In therapy the research suggest that it is the “relationship that heals”. It is the role of acceptance that can make impact on breaking into that cycle. A cycle that has come down through the generations.