Retrain your mind to stop being a perfectionist

Being A Perfectionist Is Not About Things Being Perfect

Updated on July 5, 2024

In a world that often glorifies the pursuit of perfection, it’s essential to understand that being a perfectionist isn’t about achieving flawless outcomes in every aspect of life. It’s not a relentless quest for things to be perfect, but rather a mindset characterized by an unwavering commitment to excellence, acute attention to detail, and a persistent desire to do one’s best.

In this blog, we delve into the intricate world of perfectionism, unravelling the misconceptions surrounding it, and exploring the impact it can have on individuals and their endeavours. Join us as we navigate the nuances of being a perfectionist, revealing the challenges and rewards that come with this mindset.

What Is A Perfectionist Person?

A perfectionist is an individual who possesses an innate drive to attain the highest standards of performance and precision in their pursuits. They exhibit meticulous attention to detail, an unwavering commitment to excellence, and an often self-imposed pressure to achieve flawlessness in their endeavours. While this pursuit of perfection can yield impressive results, it can also lead to heightened stress, self-criticism, and persistent fear of failure, making it important to strike a balance between their pursuit of excellence and the need for self-compassion.

The Perils Of Perfectionism

The issue with pursuing perfection doesn’t lie in the aspiration itself but rather in the lack of a realistic understanding of what perfection truly entails. It’s not about impatience or an inability to embrace challenges that exceed our expectations.

The real problem with perfectionism is that many individuals choose mediocrity not because they are inherently average but due to their willingness to exert only minimal effort. Consequently, you find yourself grappling with numerous challenges and obstacles daily as you strive to reach your best.

It becomes apparent that a significant portion of people don’t prioritize the outcomes of their actions, and they often evade taking responsibility for their mistakes. Meanwhile, there’s an expectation for you to bear the full weight of your own errors, and even those that aren’t yours to carry. In this landscape, the pursuit of perfection becomes a demanding and often thankless journey.

Unpacking Perfectionism: The Traits and Types

Perfectionism, a deeply personal trait, manifests through an unyielding pursuit of flawlessness and the setting of exceedingly high standards. This often accompanies overly critical self-evaluations and an acute concern for how others perceive us.

On the positive side, perfectionism encourages higher personal standards, outstanding organizational abilities, meticulous attention to detail, and ultimately, a more refined end result in our endeavours.

Conversely, the downsides of perfectionism can include social anxiety, obsessive behaviour, frustration, and even depression, casting a shadow on our quest for perfection.

When it comes to the types of perfectionism, we have self-oriented perfectionists who uphold strict standards for themselves and engage in rigorous self-evaluation. Other-oriented perfectionists set unrealistic standards for those around them and meticulously evaluate their performance. Additionally, socially prescribed perfectionists believe others have unrealistic expectations for them, experiencing external pressure to attain an unattainable standard. Understanding these dimensions allows for a more comprehensive grasp of the intricate nature of perfectionism.

Perfectionism: Evaluating Its Pros and Cons

Perfectionism, often painted with a negative brush, leaves us wondering if there’s a brighter side to this trait. Indeed, there are facets that can be seen as strengths.

Perfectionists tend to possess exceptional organizational skills and a relentless drive to elevate themselves to meet their lofty standards. However, the flip side of this coin reveals that these very qualities can sometimes lead to anxiety and depression.

While perfectionism has garnered a reputation as a negative trait, it’s essential to recognize that, when harnessed effectively, it can be a source of empowerment. It’s all about striking the right balance and channelling those high standards into constructive endeavours.

Overcoming The Grip Of Perfectionism

It’s a common thread that runs through many lives—this pursuit of perfection, driven by fear. To break free from the clutches of perfectionism that restrain you from becoming who you aspire to be, you must confront this fear head-on.

Perfectionism often acts as a protective mask, shielding you from the fear of judgment, failure, or the uncertainties of the unknown. To move beyond this self-imposed barrier, it’s crucial to acknowledge that perfectionism, in many cases, is rooted in fear.

The path to liberation begins by recognizing that perfectionism, while well-intentioned, can hold you back from realizing your full potential. By embracing imperfection, you open yourself up to growth, resilience, and the endless possibilities that lie beyond the confines of fear-driven perfectionism.

Breaking Down Perfectionism

To liberate yourself from the grip of perfectionism, it’s essential to engage in introspection and ask these three critical questions:

  1. What is the underlying fear that fuels your perfectionism?
  2. Why do you harbour this fear?
  3. What is the worst-case scenario that you believe could unfold?

Often, the fear tied to perfectionism is rooted in the concern that others may ridicule or pass judgment on you. It’s crucial to understand that perfectionism, in reality, is an illusion.

Recognize that no matter what you do, there will always be critics and judges. Perfectionism is not a genuine standard; it’s an unattainable ideal. Don’t let the fear of judgment hold you back from pursuing your desires. Embrace imperfection, acknowledge that perfectionism is a facade, and propel yourself beyond its limitations.

Becoming a “Healthy” Perfectionist

Achieving a healthy balance as a perfectionist involves:

  1. Self-Awareness: Acknowledge your perfectionist tendencies and their impact on your life. Self-awareness is the first step to change.
  2. Set Realistic Standards: Recognize that perfection is unattainable and that it’s okay to strive for excellence without obsessing over flawless outcomes.
  3. Prioritize Self-Compassion: Be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion. Understand that making mistakes is a part of growth.
  4. Seek Feedback: Instead of relying solely on self-evaluation, seek feedback from others to gain a more objective perspective on your performance.
  5. Flexible Thinking: Challenge all-or-nothing thinking. Embrace flexibility and adaptability in your approach to tasks and goals.
  6. Time Management: Manage your time effectively. Avoid spending excessive time on minor details and prioritize tasks based on importance.
  7. Celebrate Achievements: Acknowledge your achievements, no matter how small. Celebrating milestones can help you stay motivated.
  8. Stress Management: Develop stress-management techniques to cope with the anxiety that can accompany perfectionism. Techniques like mindfulness and deep breathing can be helpful.
  9. Set Boundaries: Establish boundaries to prevent burnout. Learn to say no when necessary and recognize when you’ve reached your limit.
  10. Seek Support: If perfectionism is causing significant distress or interfering with your life, consider seeking support from a therapist or counsellor who specializes in perfectionism or anxiety.

By integrating these strategies into your life, you can harness the positive aspects of perfectionism while mitigating its potential negative impact, ultimately striving for a healthier, more balanced approach to your pursuits.

Retrain your mind to stop being a perfectionist


In conclusion, perfectionism, often seen through a negative lens, is a multifaceted trait with both strengths and weaknesses. While it drives us to set high standards and achieve excellence, it can also lead to anxiety, stress, and frustration. Understanding the types and dimensions of perfectionism allows us to navigate its complexities.

To become a “healthy” perfectionist, self-awareness is key. Setting realistic standards, practising self-compassion, and seeking feedback are essential steps. It’s about finding a balance between striving for excellence and accepting that perfection is an unattainable ideal. By managing time effectively, celebrating achievements, and seeking support when needed, we can transform perfectionism into a driving force for growth and success while maintaining our well-being. In this balanced approach, we can embrace the best of perfectionism while mitigating its pitfalls, ultimately leading to a more fulfilling and enriched life.

Are you a perfectionist?

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References: verywellhealth | Wikipedia


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