Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D.: Perfectionism and Its Effects on Self-Productivity | Work in Progress #7

In this episode, host Tia Hamer is joined by Elliot D. Cohen, founder, and editor of the International Journal of Applied Philosophy and the International Journal of Philosophical Practice.

Are you a perfectionist? Or do you know someone who is? This episode discussed how perfectionism affects one’s life and how to manage it so that it can boost productivity.

Meet Elliot D. Cohen

Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D. from Brown University, is one of the principal founders of philosophical counseling in the United States. He is also the founder and editor of the International Journal of Applied Philosophy and the International Journal of Philosophical Practice. 

He is the author of 27 books and numerous articles in philosophical counseling, applied philosophy, and professional ethics; his books include Making Peace with Imperfection: Discover Your Perfectionism Type, End the Cycle of Criticism, and Embrace Self-Acceptance.

About the episode

In this episode hosted by Tia Harmer, Elliot defines personal productivity as the ability to multitask and keep everything balanced, especially within the professional and personal lives. He also said that it is important to exercise something that you have passion for because you put your focus on it and consider it an important thing. 

Elliot elaborated on what perfectionism is and in what form it exists. He mentioned aspirational perfectionism, which means that you’re constantly aspiring to be perfect and to become better and better at what you do. Realize that there’s no limit to how good you can get, but if you mess up or fail to accomplish your immediate goal, you’re still cool about it. 

Then he discussed demanding perfectionism, which is maladaptive, which means you demand no less than perfection in whatever you do. In this sense, making a mistake is a sign of being a failure, a weakness, and some form of ineptitude if others disappoint your perfectionistic expectations. If things don’t go their way, the world is a sucky place or just not one that really passes muster, and so in this sense of perfectionism, you demand perfection, and as a result of that, you live in this perpetual state of emotional stress.

Additionally, Elliot advised that for someone to manage perfectionism, they should be an observer rather than an evaluator of thought, get it through practicing mindfulness, and then, when they are practicing mindfulness, find a specific moment in life when they can implement it, especially when they are under stress.

In conclusion

A lot of people are perfectionists in particular areas of their lives. And so there are good habits you can practice to overcome this.

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