Millennials are having a perfectionist problem.
According to new research by the American Psychological Association, which was published in the journal Psychological Bulletin, young people today are harder on themselves than any generation before them.
To come to this conclusion, the research team evaluated responses from more than 40,000 college students who took part in a survey between 1989 and 2016 to determine where they stood on the Multidimensional Perfection Scale.
The study, The Cut explained, then assessed generational changes in three different types of perfectionism and showed increases in all three.
The team found a 10 percent increase in self-directed perfectionism, a 33 percent increase in socially prescribed perfectionism and a 16 percent increase in other-oriented perfectionism. In short, this means millennials are hard on themselves, they take it hard from others, and from the whole of society.
Why is this happening? According to Thomas Curran, Ph.D., one of the study’s authors, it all comes down to unrealistic expectations.
“Meritocracy places a strong need for young people to strive, perform, and achieve in modern life,” Curran shared in a statement with The Cut. “Young people are responding by reporting increasingly unrealistic educational and professional expectations for themselves. As a result, perfectionism is rising among millennials.”
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Of course, perfectionism is something we should all try to avoid, no matter which generation we fall into. Here are five signs you’re on the road to becoming a perfectionist that may put your mental and physical health at risk.
You're incapable of doing yoga or meditating
Reader’s Digest further pointed to research published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, which found that one of the reasons perfectionists can’t take part is because they fear they will be unable to perform a movement or a method correctly.
You’re always cleaning
According to psychologist Ellen Hendriksen, one of the biggest signs of perfectionism is a clean house. That’s because perfectionists have a difficult time concentrating on tasks of their surroundings are less than spotless.
“In many people’s experience, it’s true that outer order equals inner calm. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being neat and organized, but it can also a hidden sign of perfectionism,” she wrote on Quick and Dirty Tips. Preferring outer order is fine if it’s not getting in your way, but check for these three things: Does clearing clutter, cleaning, and organizing takes so much time and energy it leaves you unable to do what you’re supposed to be doing? Are you unable to transition away from cleaning, making you chronically late or stressed? Or, is following your partner around with a vacuum or criticism straining your relationship?”
If the answer is yes, you may suffer from perfectionism.
You’re burnt out
In a 2015 study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Review, researchers found that perfectionists were constantly worrying about performing at their best, which often led to extreme burnout.
“Perfectionistic concerns capture fears and doubts about personal performance, which creates stress that can lead to burnout when people become cynical and stop caring,”lead researcher Andrew Hill said in a statement. “It also can interfere with relationships and make it difficult to cope with setbacks because every mistake is viewed as a disaster.”
You’re a loner
Psychologist Shauna Springer explained in Psychology Today that perfectionists can have an inability to open up and be vulnerable to others, leading them to have less fulfilling relationships.
“It is very hard for a perfectionist to share his or her internal experience with a partner,” Springer wrote. “Perfectionists often feel that they must always be strong and in control of their emotions. A perfectionist may avoid talking about personal fears, inadequacies, insecurities, and disappointments with others, even with those with whom they are closest.”
You're a people-pleaser
A perfectionist, at the heart of it, wants everyone to like them, approve of them, and tell them they are doing great. And this need may cause a severe downward spiral if they can’t perform a task at 100 percent.
“The reach for perfection can be painful because it is often driven by both a desire to do well and a fear of the consequences of not doing well,” psychologist Monica Ramirez Basco, shared with HuffPost. “This is the double-edged sword of perfectionism.”