“THE PERFECTIONISM”-Is it really a boon or a bane?
Awareness Self Help

“THE PERFECTIONISM”-Is it really a boon or a bane?


The word “perfectionism” is no doubt a superlative and I was overwhelmed when everyone called me a “perfectionist” during my childhood days – my teachers, my friends, my parents and my near and dear ones !!!!

Minute things used to agitate me a lot like an uncapped pen lying on the table, deviations from the routine life like missing out an exercise for a day, having one unhealthy food, trying excessively to groom the hair perfectly, etc. Trivial matters like seeing someone not arranging back the newspaper after reading, not organizing shoes in a rack or books in a bookshelf, and many other things used to perturb me. Instead of becoming my strength and positive trait, perfectionism nearly exhausted me and it became debilitating in the long run……!!!!

I am pretty sure that among our readers too there are many people who would have experienced the same. In reality, as I grew up, I realized that perfectionism is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it inspires you to work at a high standard and on the other hand, it can be harmful, devitalizing and toxic, thus affecting both physical as well as mental health. So let us know in detail about “Perfectionism” – its types, signs, ill-effects and the steps to overcome it.

What is perfectionism?

Perfectionism is setting excessively high benchmarks and being inordinately self-deprecating or unassertive.

What are the types of perfectionism?

There are three different types of perfectionism:

  • Self-oriented perfectionism: It is the propensity to set excessively high and unrealistic demands and expectations on one’s self. These people try hard to be perfect and hold harsh self-evaluations or rely on some external achievements to feel content, deserving and trustworthy.
  • Socially-prescribed perfectionism: These people believe that the outside world or other people are expecting them to be perfect and are judging them harshly.
  • Other-oriented perfectionism: These people urge or force unrealistic and high standards on those around them and pressurize them to fix their imperfections.
signs of perfectionism

What are the signs of perfectionism?

  • Highly self-critical
  • Denying the need to prioritize tasks.
  • Having a specific way of doing things.
  • Urge to manage everything all at once.
  • Neglecting one’s own needs to please others.
  • Spotting mistakes when others don’t see any.
  • Procrastinate things to do at the right moment.
  • Staying in one’s comfort zone to avoid failures.
  • Don’t tolerate the mistakes of oneself or others
  • Setting extremely high and unrealistic standards.
  • Experience the inability to enjoy leisure activities.
  • Obsessive thinking about past failures and future goals.
  • Preoccupied over making rules, checklists, plans, protocols and lists.

Related: Psychology of Failure life

What are the ill effects of perfectionism?

  1. Obsessive thinking leads to procrastination and poor time management.
  2. Perfectionists become burned out and distressed over the long run due to overactivity and overworking.
  3. Mental health consequences like generalized anxiety, depression, lower life satisfaction, and low self-worth.
  4. Chronic stress, lack of sleep and self-care in order to complete something perfectly leads to physical issues.
  5. Inability to maintain healthy, high-quality relationships. The near and dear ones become frustrated by the perfectionist’s workaholic tendencies, critical comments and constant requests for reassurance.

Related: 15 proven Tips for Better Sleep Hygiene

How do you overcome perfectionism?

  • Challenge your negative thoughts.
  • Focus on your character rather than on your accomplishments
  • Stop contemplating on the past mistakes and thinking too much about the future. Stay in the present moment and enjoy every small happiness.
  • Don’t try to please anyone: Believe in yourself. Trying to please all leads to frustration, stress and misery.
  • Enjoy the process, not just the outcome: “When you enjoy the process, your goal becomes a milestone, not a finish line”- Gymaholic.
  • Stay connected with people: your friends and family. Try to spend quality time and try to engage in meaningful activities with the people around you.
  • Break the monotony: Accept the challenges as and when they come. Try out new things and break the monotony. Move out of the comfort zone. Try to do something extravagant.
  • Always set realistic, smarter and attainable goals: If an unattainable goal is set, it is easily demotivating. Break the goals into smaller ones so that you don’t feel defeated.
  • Love exactly the way you are: Don’t try too hard to perfect the things. Love your imperfect self. Imperfection is a form of freedom. Try to embrace the imperfections or flaws at times.

Related: Psychology Behind Goal-Setting

Our society considers imperfections and failures as weaknesses and therefore, perfectionism is used as a shield to avoid the failures. Perfectionism is not a healthy pursuit for achieving excellence. The best approach is to work towards excellence rather than towards perfectionism. We should enjoy the process rather than just the outcome. Let us learn to stop diverting our energies into our obsessive need for perfectionism. This will automatically increase our efficiency and productivity.

“The goal is progress not perfection”

Kathy Freston

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