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Breaking the Chains of Perfectionism with ISTDP Therapy

Are you struggling with perfectionism? Do you feel trapped in the need to do everything perfectly, no matter the cost? If so, ISTDP therapy may be the key to breaking these chains. In this article we will be exploring how ISTDP can help you overcome the constraints of perfectionism.

Understanding Perfectionism

Perfectionism is often viewed as a positive attribute in our society. However, perfectionism is not the same as striving for excellence.

Rather, it is a maladaptive coping mechanism that often leads to distress and negatively impacts our mental health, for many it is a form of self attack and criticism that can be very paralysing in day to day life.

Perfectionism is defined as the desire to achieve flawless outcomes and meet extremely high standards, this impossible task often leads to impacts on self worth and self esteem when the inevitable happens that this standards cannot be met . Individuals with perfectionistic tendencies tend to set unrealistic goals and experience anxiety or feelings of shame and guilt when they are unable to meet these standards.

Perfectionists also tend to engage in self-criticism and have a hard time accepting themselves or their work as "good enough."

Perfectionism can manifest in different areas of life, including work, relationships, and personal achievements. It can cause individuals to be excessively detail-oriented and overly critical of themselves, leading to stress and burnout.

It is important to understand that perfectionism is not a personal failing, but rather a coping mechanism that is learned and reinforced through life experiences.

Therefore, addressing and changing perfectionistic tendencies requires a compassionate and supportive approach that focuses on healing underlying emotional issues rather than simply changing behaviour.

How ISTDP Therapy can Help with Perfectionism

Perfectionism can be a difficult habit to break, luckily, ISTDP therapy has been shown to be a highly effective form of treatment for perfectionism.

The need for perfectionism is normally driven by an 'inner critic', an internalised view of the self that pushes a person to live by unrealistic expectations that will lead to punishing the self if they are not reached.

The problem perfectionist's face is that they learned to believe the inner critic is the right way to treat themselves, almost becoming enmeshed with this view.

This view has normally developed somewhere in the past based on an individuals experiences, but overtime it became internalised as the rules that they must live by.

ISTDP works at breaking this pattern, helping an individual to begin to turn against these impossible standards and learn a more compassionate and realistic view of the self, which will help to alleviate the depression, stress and anxiety the perfectionist view creates.

The therapy will also help the client to deal with the underlying feelings that will be evoked from the recognition of how badly these perfectionist rules have impacted on their life.

By working through these emotions a person can begin to treat themselves in a more compassionate way and move away from the internalised critical view of themselves.

Real-Life Examples of ISTDP Therapy in Action

To help you understand the effectiveness of ISTDP therapy in treating perfectionism, we will provide some real-life examples of ISTDP therapy in action.

Example 1: Sara is a successful businesswoman who struggles with perfectionism. She has been working 80 hours a week to make sure every detail is perfect in her presentations. However, despite her hard work, she is never satisfied with the outcome. Sara has become increasingly anxious and stressed, which has started to affect her sleep and relationships.

Through ISTDP therapy, Sara learned how to recognize her anxiety and the causes of her anxiety being the high standards she was set as a child to be the 'perfect student', which she continued to live by as an adult.

Her therapist helped her work trough the underlying emotions around having the live this way as a child, which allowed her to break free of this pattern and live by a fairer standard that she wanted to set herself.

Example 2: Noah is a university student who is terrified of public speaking. He avoids presenting in class and feels intense anxiety leading up to the event. Noah has always felt that his value as a person is tied to his performance, so any mistakes he makes feel like personal failures.

In ISTDP therapy, Noah learned to identify the unconscious feelings of shame and guilt that underpinned his perfectionism. He realised that it was not the people he was presenting to that he feared, but that he presumed others would be as demanding on himself as he was.

With the help of his therapist, he was able to challenge his internal perfectionist voice that kept him in fear of making a mistake and the fear of being judged by others for doing so. By alleviating this he was able to break free of the anxiety he had been experiencing in these situations.

If you would like to break your perfectionism and begin to be more understanding to yourself then book an appointment.


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