4 Signs You Have Atelophobia & What You Can Do About It
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Atelophobia is a fancy word that means a fear of being imperfect. If you have atelophobia, you likely consider yourself a perfectionist and love to receive positive feedback and compliments. On the reverse side of that, you probably hate criticism in any form and are devastated when you don’t come in the first place. Of course, everyone likes compliments and wants to win, but if you have atelophobia, your fear of mistakes and failures is constant and impacts your daily decisions.
If you would rather avoid doing things than risk doing them and making a mistake, you probably have atelophobia. You should use this article to learn more, but if you think that you may have atelophobia you should see a professional for a diagnosis and to develop a treatment plan.
4 Signs You Have Atelophobia & What to Do About It
1. Signs That You Have Atelophobia
You Avoid Possible Mistakes
If you have atelophobia, you probably try to avoid even the possibility of making a mistake. You may be trying to achieve the illusion of perfection by eliminating all criticism and critique in your life. You may even think that the chance of success isn’t worth the risk of maybe failing. You may have developed avoidance behavior patterns without even realizing it. Unfortunately, continuing to use avoidance behaviors only reinforces your fears.
These personal avoidance behaviors need to be identified by a professional and addressed so that they can be replaced with positive habits instead.
You Obsess Over Mistakes
Even if you do everything in your power to avoid mistakes you will occasionally make some. How you react to your mistakes can be a good indicator of whether you have atelophobia.
If you can’t let the mistake go, if you constantly replay the mistake in your head, if you still remember your small mistakes vividly even years later, you probably have atelophobia. You let one mistake keep you from ever doing anything related to the situation in which the mistake happened. You let your mistakes literally determine your future.
Constant Self Judgement
If you have atelophobia you are hyper-critical of yourself. You expect 150% more of yourself than you would even consider expecting of anyone else.
While criticism from others is painful, when you have atelophobia your own inner voice is even more painful, and since this voice is part of you it never leaves you. You are your own worst critic. You belittle yourself and torture yourself over mistakes that are just part of the normal learning process.
With atelophobia, your fear of making a mistake is so great that it leads to physical symptoms. Some symptoms that you might experience because of atelophobia are:
- Shortness of breath
- Fast heartbeat
- Excessive sweating
These symptoms will be strongest when you think you’ll make a mistake or when you are obsessing over past mistakes. Some of these symptoms, like anxiety, may become constant. Experiencing these physical symptoms shows that your fear of being imperfect has developed into a phobia that needs to be addressed.
2. What You Can Do About Your Atelophobia
Work with A Professional
If you show signs of having atelophobia, it is important that you see a mental health professional. Doing so will allow them to make sure that this is the correct diagnosis and set up a team of professionals that can help you. You may work with a psychiatrist, psychologist, or licensed therapist. You might use psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and possibly medication on your healing journey. Be brave and love yourself enough to work through this fear so that you can live your life more freely.
To Control Atelophobia, Choose Positive Thoughts
In addition to working with professionals, you can do a few things to help yourself at home. Since fears develop and live in your mind, your thoughts are a great place to start making a change. Strive to replace your negative and harmful thoughts with positive ones.
If you make a mistake, tell yourself, “mistakes are a normal part of life and learning. I am worth more than my mistakes. I can try again.” Make statements like these your mantra. Say them at the start of each day or print them out and hang them where you will see them often.
You can also take up the practice of responding to your negative thoughts about yourself with positive ones. Each time that you criticize yourself, give yourself a compliment. Tell yourself about how hard you work regardless of the results. Remind yourself of your talents. Tell yourself that you are kind.
The compliments that you give yourself may have to start small if you are new to speaking kindly to yourself, but that’s okay. As you practice self-affirmation you will get better at it. It will get easier. Keep going.
Mindfulness is the practice of being present and aware, without reacting to or judging your surroundings or yourself. When you are mindful of yourself, the tasks you do each day, and the world around you, it can bring a great sense of meaning and fulfillment from each of these things.
To start practicing mindfulness, set a timer for 10 or even just 5 minutes. You can increase the time as you get better at this meditation.
Sit down in a place that isn’t too distracting – somewhere clean, quiet, and well lit. You might even try meditating outside. Sit comfortably and start to notice your body. Pay attention to any sensations in your legs and then your arms.
Then feel your breath and think only about how it enters and then leaves your lungs. Stay focused on just your breath.
At some point, your focus will wander. This is natural. Without criticizing yourself return your thoughts and focus to your breath when you notice that it has wandered. Do this without judgment as many times as needed until your timer goes off. When it does, take a few moments to focus on any other sounds in your environment and acknowledge them.
Now that you are aware of yourself and your surroundings you are prepared to take a moment to choose how you will continue with your day.
You may find it helpful to have mindfulness meditation sessions in the morning and again in the evening, but if that doesn’t work for you just find time for a session as often as you can. If you find it hard to focus on your own you can find guided meditations online that will talk you through the whole session, including gentle reminders to refocus on your breathing.
You can also practice mini-sessions whenever you get overwhelmed. To do this, just take a pause and notice 5 things about yourself or your surroundings while you take a few deep breaths. Taking a moment to be aware will help you be present and make conscious choices instead of reactions.
Give it Time
The most important thing you can do is give yourself time. It will take time to change your thoughts and behaviors. It will take time to get good at the coping techniques and meditations that you learn as part of your healing journey. Allow yourself this time, and even though it is hard, be willing to keep trying even if you don’t do it perfectly the first time. Keep repeating your mantras, keep complimenting yourself, keep meditating, keep seeing, and working with your mental health team.
Be brave. Love yourself. You are worth it!
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