Avoiding the Pitfalls of Perfection

It might seem counter intuitive, but a surprising number of people with ADHD also struggle with perfectionism. A moderate degree of perfectionism can signal that someone is hardworking, reliable and driven. Carried too far, it comes across as someone being overly critical and having unrealistic expectations.

ADHD and Perfectionism

In many ways, having ADHD and being a perfectionist would seem to be incompatible. ADHD is often associated with distraction, lack of focus, lack of follow through on tasks and disorganization. You might ask, how does that fit with perfectionism? According to the staff at Fastbrain, the answer lies in the common traits often shared by individuals with ADHD and those with strong perfectionist tendencies:

  • Anxiety driven – For those with ADHD, anxiety can arise from various sources: problems with relationship; issues with feeling judged or overly criticized; struggling with diet, finances or daily routines. For perfectionists, the anxiety is likely to arise from fear of failure.
  • Obsessive attention – While distraction may be the more common mode of attention associated with ADHD, individuals with the condition can shift into periods of hperfocus, where attention is intensely focused on a particular task or goal. This is similar to the obsessive focus that a perfectionist might exhibit when working toward a goal.
  • Less empathy – A perfectionist will tend to put more emphasis on achieving success rather than how other feel about or may be hurt by their activities. Similarly, an individual with ADHD may struggle to understand or connect with the emotions of others.

Tips for Breaking Free of Perfectionism

So what to do if you feel like you are falling into the perfectionism habit? Natalia van Rikxoort, MSW, ACC writing at PyschCentral, recommends the following:

  • Acknowledge that perfection is typically unattainable and unnecessary
  • Determine what is “good enough” in a given situation
  • Don’t be paralyzed by waiting for just the right moment of inspiration or hyperfocus to strike
  • Get perspective on what you’re trying to accomplish

Perfection isn’t the only path to success. If you find yourself being blocked, rather than helped, by a desire for perfection, ask your friends or family for help in getting perspective.

Why Perfectionism Isn’t Perfect — and How to Overcome It

And here are more suggestions about not letting perfectionism drive your life …

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