You would have gained more information about what other people may think through your surveys. You may start to question some of the thoughts you previously believed was the “right” way to do things.
The next step is to question whether your perfectionist thoughts and behaviours are helping you or causing more problems than they solve.This can be done using behavioural experiments, where you gather information to test a belief about a behaviour.
For example, if you believe that your work will receive a worse mark if you spend 3 hours on it instead of 6, that belief can be tested by handing in a piece of work on which you have spent 3 hours and then another (as similar as possible) which you have spent 6 hours on.
These experiments can be hard to do – it takes courage to put yourself on the spot – but if you don’t test how far your beliefs and behaviours match up to reality, it’s not likely that you will change. Here’s an example of a behavioural experiment.
We created one experiment where she completed two essays. One was completed at the very last minute despite her feeling that it “wasn’t right”. The other was completed ahead of time.
When she submitted the essay ahead of time, she felt a sense of achievement about it not being rushed and she didn’t view it to be either more or less right than the essay she submitted right on the deadline.
|1) My belief|
|Unless I can write my essays perfectly (i.e. “feels right”), there is no point in writing them at all.|
|2) My general prediction|
|If my essay is not perfect or “feels right”, I will do badly and be a complete failure.|
|3) My prediction in details (e.g. specific behaviours; rate how strongly your beliefs and feelings are from 0 to 10):|
Try completing two essays:
|When I submitted the essay ahead of time, I felt happy about it not being rushed. I didn’t see it as more or less right than the essay I submitted right on the deadline. I also did better in the essay which I submitted it earlier.|
|6) What I've learnt|
|I learnt that submitting an essay ahead of time didn’t increase my feelings of “not rightness” but gave me a sense of achievement. It also reduced my worry because the essay wasn’t always on my mind. Moreover, the teacher didn’t see me as lazy and stupid but praised me for handing it on time and doing better.|
|7) My new belief: (e.g. specific behaviours; rate how strongly your new beliefs and feelings are from 0 to 10)|
|I do not have to only start writing an essay when it “feels right” or perfect. Just starting it instead of procrastinating helps, and having done it, I felt happy and a sense of achievement (8/10).|