DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm a perfectionist, and it's causing me a lot of stress. I recently accepted a job that proved to be overwhelming to me. I thought I would be good at it, but I had to stretch a lot, and it just seemed like I was not doing anything right. I ended up quitting after one week. I felt like such a failure. My boss didn’t say that I was doing a bad job, but she kept pointing out things that I needed to work on. I just couldn't take it. Now I am unemployed and feel like even more of a loser. How can I regain my confidence when my perfectionism is probably what landed me here in the first place? -- Crippling Perfectionism
DEAR CRIPPLING PERFECTIONISM: Give yourself credit for recognizing that you may be too much of a perfectionist. In our culture, being a high achiever -- being the best -- is lauded. Know that you are not alone in your desire to do everything right and likely better than others. Know, too, that this is unhealthy and can lead to situations like you described where you feel compelled to walk away rather than face whatever situation is before you.
According to VeryWellMind.com, signs of perfectionism include: all-or-nothing thinking, being highly critical, having unrealistic standards, focusing only on unmet goals, fear of failure, procrastination, defensiveness and low self-esteem.
You can work to combat those feelings by establishing daily affirmations that speak to your talents and goodness. Give yourself a break. Showing up and doing your best are good. And good is just fine. You may want to see a therapist to help you navigate the current crisis and help you develop strategies for managing your expectations and outcomes.