Do you struggle with thinking your work is not good enough? Are you reluctant to answer questions or give your opinion in class, in case you make a mistake? Do you find it hard to accept criticism of your work? You may be dealing with an unhealthy level of perfectionism.
Perfectionists often set unrealistically high standards for assignments and assessments, and interpret any failure to meet these standards as a sign that they are not good enough. Although having high standards is not necessarily a bad thing, perfectionism has been linked with higher levels of stress and worry as well as suffering from more physical health problems.
Students who do the best in higher education do tend to “dream big”, and set high goals for themselves. However, they accept that learning is a journey, and that making errors is an invaluable part of the process. Rather than worrying unproductively about disappointing results in the past, they view mistakes as problem solving opportunities, which will help them to do better in the future. Therefore, they are willing to take chances, and push themselves, even if this means their work might be less than perfect.
If you feel that your perfectionism might be holding you back, JMC’s Student Support Officer in Sydney, Nadie Menon, offers some tips that may help:
1) Treat yourself the way you would treat others. What would you to say to your best friend, if they were beating themself up over an assessment mark? Be as kind to yourself as you would be to them.
2) Realise that mistakes are not just unavoidable, but will actually help you to improve. Increasing your competency at any task, involves not being able to do it perfectly at first. Practise makes perfect. Therefore, embrace challenging projects, rather than avoiding them.
3) When you are unhappy with your results, avoid negative self-talk such as “I’ll never be any good at this”. Instead, be constructive. Seek out feedback from your peers, and teachers, and ask them for suggestions to help you do better the next time.
4) Look to the future. What is in the past is out of your control, so it is not constructive to dwell on it. Instead focus on the challenges that still lie ahead.
5) Build a support network. Talk about your fears to fellow students, family and friends, and allow them to reassure you. If you feel that it might help you, you could also see a counsellor or psychologist for coping strategies that are tailored to your individual needs.
Find out more about the student and academic support available at JMC or Apply Now.
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