Usually to attend to and interpret things according to what we expect. Perfectionists tend to pay attention to any evidence that they are not achieving so they can correct these immediately. Perfectionists also have an extreme view of what success and failure is, with no middle ground, causing them to judge themselves more harshly than others would.
Often perfectionists demonstrate a pattern of unhelpful thinking styles, including:
- Black & White thinking: maneuvering only at extremes – no shades of gray
- Shoulding & Musting: putting unreasonable demands on self and others
- Catastrophising: blowing things out of proportion, seeing the worst case
- Jumping to Conclusions: assuming that we know what others are thinking (mind-reading) or can predict the future (fortune-telling)
Perfectionists also engage in a range of unhelpful behaviours to make sure they continue to meet the high standards they set for themselves. E.g., procrastinating, avoidance, checking, correcting, list-making, slowness etc.
Many perfectionists also attempt to meet their unrelenting standards and avoid ‘failure’ by avoiding doing tasks. Although this may not seem like perfectionism, it is really the other side of the same coin as engaging in actions aimed at meeting your unrelenting standards.
When perfectionists fear that they will not be able to reach their high standards, they may be too afraid of failure to try. Some may procrastinate by putting off a task, often indefinitely, while others will wait to the last minute before doing a task.