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Author Topic: Anxiety, perfectionism, obssession and all-or-nothing thinking  (Read 335 times)

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Offline Quetzal828

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Anxiety, perfectionism, obssession and all-or-nothing thinking
« on: December 20, 2013, 12:11:51 PM »
Hello, new member here. I've had GAD and OCD pretty much all my life. I've been in CBT off and on for about a year and recently started on Zoloft.

I've noticed that a major way anxiety permeates my life is by turning everything -- and I mean absolutely EVERYTHING -- into a high-pressure, all-or-nothing pursuit. I've got a deeply-ingrained, obsessive strand of perfectionism that runs through everything I do.

For as long as I can remember, I go through "phases" where I get stuck on one hobby/activity/goal/life mission as the central source of meaning in my life. Things like painting, writing, running, even supposedly relaxing activities like knitting. I'll get so intense about these activities that it's not possible to be moderate about it; instead, I come up with grandiose plans about how I'll get up early every morning and dedicate myself 100% to whatever activity I'm stuck on until I achieve some illusory accomplishment. When I don't follow through on these plans, I feel this chronic sense of failure and discontentment, causing even more anxiety and pressure. Eventually I burn out and find some new thing to focus on, and the cycle continues.

Has anyone else experienced this? Do you have any tips for finding peace and contentment outside of obsessive pursuits?
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Offline mujer_verde

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Re: Anxiety, perfectionism, obssession and all-or-nothing thinking
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2013, 07:24:00 PM »
Hey Quetzal :)

I'v also had GAD my whole life and take an SSRI for it.  I hope zoloft works for you!  I totally relate to your obsessive perfectionism.  For me, my pursuits also become very high pressure because I feel like if I'm not perfect at it then I will be left with the feeling of failure forever.  The funny thing is, while I've succeeded at a lot of things, nothing every really fills the abyss of needing to excel.  In fact, success generally just creates new anxieties for me.

Recently a dear mentor told me that I don't have to believe I'm smart enough or good enough or strong enough, etc.  She said all you have to come to understand is that you are enough. For me that takes a lot of the pressure out of the game. To the extent that I can begin to understand that I'm already enough I can learn to let go a little and see what it's like to just be.  Meditation helps a ton with that, even just 5 minutes of breathing a day can help me re-center and let go of my attachment to anxious motives and thoughts.
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Offline LivD

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Re: Anxiety, perfectionism, obssession and all-or-nothing thinking
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2013, 07:10:39 AM »
I'm a perfectionist too, I was influenced as a child by my mother, who gave me the impression I always had to succeed and be "perfect" to be "accepted". Therapy (transactional analysis) is helping me to see how this idea is absurd and inhuman, since a perfect person doesn't exist and anyway would be emotionless. I'm learning to analyze the thoughts that automatically go through my mind when I feel like I'm not doing good enough, and yo not listen to my critical inner parent. It takes practice but it's great.
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Offline Quetzal828

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Re: Anxiety, perfectionism, obssession and all-or-nothing thinking
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2013, 10:35:39 AM »
Thanks for the replies! I'm also realizing my perfectionism probably stems partly from childhood, when I learned to feel good about myself only when others praised me for my accomplishments. I've also noticed that each success just leads to more anxiety and pressure to accomplish more.

I'm struggling with how to detect when my motives for doing something are anxiety-driven and perfectionism-driven. I feel like a lot of the pressures I place on myself are rooted in a desire to please/impress others, but I don't often realize that right away.
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Offline jadd

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Re: Anxiety, perfectionism, obssession and all-or-nothing thinking
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2013, 04:26:55 AM »
i have the same problem and i feel it will take some work to be at peace with myself and my choices in life without depending on other people's thoughts. It's hard, but I believe it's doable. Thinking about it when I'm not struggling with an attack makes it easier to put it into perspective.
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Offline jadd

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Re: Anxiety, perfectionism, obssession and all-or-nothing thinking
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2013, 04:28:11 AM »
i have the same problem and i feel it will take some work to be at peace with myself and my choices in life without depending on other people's thoughts. It's hard, but I believe it's doable. Thinking about it when I'm not struggling with an attack makes it easier to put it into perspective.
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Offline britmansf18

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Re: Anxiety, perfectionism, obssession and all-or-nothing thinking
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2013, 01:06:33 AM »
i can definitely relate to what you are saying. I have this problem with running and with classes ive been dreaming of taking to better myself, such as sign language courses. I wanted to incorporate sign language into my nursing career. I bought all of these books from the library but never fully committed. It made me feel worse instead of feeling better. My family is another one. I feel like I have to be this people pleaser/peace maker and make everrryyyyonnne happy. This is totally impossible, but I always try to buy them things and rescue them from their problems, when I fail to help them, I feel completely useless...but they need to learn to help themselves. Lastly, I always tell myself I am going to run like I used to run in college..I get into it for about 2 weeks and then i skip a day ..and that day turns into me not running at all anymore. I get caught up in these thoughts about how i could have been such a great ruunner. I get mad because everyone around me is running all of these races and they are turning into incredible athletes ( including my fiance) but I cant seem to get off the damn couch.. idk ..
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Offline AncientMelody

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Re: Anxiety, perfectionism, obssession and all-or-nothing thinking
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2013, 08:44:22 AM »
I don't get obsessive about hobbies, but I do struggle with all or nothing thinking, perfectionism etc. If I hear a humanitarian story about some wonderful things people do, I automatically feel like a lesser person. Rather than celebrating that person. Like Britmans, I always feel the need to be a people pleaser, peace maker, feel guilt if a family member is going through tough times. Even though the tough times have nothing to do with me.

But I'm working on it...we need to because those are some of the things that drive our anxiety. I think the Lexapro has helped somewhat with this. It's settled down some of the negative thoughts about myself, but I have a lot of work to do, which is where the therapy comes in.
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