Apr 17, 2024 | Neurodiversity

Unmasking and Dealing with Perfectionism


When people think of individuals who live with ADHD, they might not consider perfectionism as one of their common attributes. However, ADHD and perfectionism are often closely linked. Today, we will discuss this behavior in more detail, and offer some ways to help minimize perfectionism. 

What is perfectionism? 

The American Psychological Association describes perfectionism as the following, “the tendency to demand of others or of oneself an extremely high or even flawless level of performance, in excess of what is required by the situation. It is associated with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and other mental health problems.” Perfectionism is the most common cognitive distortion (negative or irrational patterns of thinking) reported by adults. 

While some people might be able to strike a healthy balance, for those struggling with perfectionism, many have negative consequences. They may procrastinate due to fear of failure, which can result in having a negative self-image or feeling like you are less than in comparison to others.  

Tips to help perfectionism 

It can be challenging to escape the trap of perfectionism. However, there are some tips and tools you can employ to help: 

Be realistic 

It is important to be realistic in your expectations and manage accordingly. Be honest with yourself about your capacity and what you can do with your circumstances and bandwidth. Remember to keep what you need to be successful and set proper expectations.  

When it comes to setting goals, remember that the road to success often comes with bumps and detours along the way. Consider exploring setting process-oriented goals. Whereas outcome-oriented goals focus on the result, process-orientated goals prioritize the steps that will lead to success.

Use time-management techniques 

ADHD can make it challenging to manage time. Time blindness refers to “the inability to recognize when time has passed or to estimate how long something will take.” Individuals with ADHD may experience time-blindness more often and to a more severe degree than neurotypical individuals.  

Utilizing techniques that can help you stay on track and focused are extremely helpful to avoid spiraling in perfectionism. Consider using a time tracking app to assist with time management. Setting a timer as a reminder can also work if you find apps are not helpful for you. 

Challenge your thoughts 

Self-reflection is a great tool to help manage perfectionism. Pay close attention to triggering negative thoughts and beliefs to track and address them. Try to shift your focus to a more realistic, positive mindset and look for ways to find a balanced perspective. Speaking with a trusted friend, colleague, or family member, writing down your thoughts and feelings, or working with a professional to find strategies that work the best for you.  

Remember that overcoming perfectionism is a marathon, not a sprint. By taking small steps toward changing your thinking, you are making your way toward a positive change. Be patient and kind to yourself throughout the process, and reach out for support if you need

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