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Dangers of Perfectionism


Being ‘a bit of a perfectionist’ doesn’t sound too much like a problem. It could even seem like a good thing. We might take the view that being a perfectionist means that we have higher standards and achieve more. What could be wrong with that? Isn’t it better to achieve more not less? To be more successful rather than less.


Is there a difference between healthy striving and perfectionism?




For some, letting go of perfectionism, might feel like having to lower standards, achieve less. It is important to remember, however, that not being a perfectionist is not about lowering of standards. We can still aim to excel in the various different aspects of our lives that we choose to. For example, we can aspire to be really good at our job, to be a great husband, wife or partner. If you’re a parent, then wanting to be a really great Mum or Dad doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a perfectionist. It also doesn’t mean that you don’t want to do well.


Being a perfectionist, isn’t just about having high standards. Having high standards in themselves is fine. It is when we link achievement to how we value ourselves as humans. If our self worth is linked to how well we perform, then this brings difficulties.


Typical characteristics of perfectionism include:-



The problems that perfectionism can bring include:-



If we are a perfectionist we can not feel good even if we do well. We can also not feel good  if we don’t do well.


Research shows that repeated checking can actually lessen our levels of confidence and working memory.


The good news is that we can learn to change. Positive healthy striving is good. You may be able to think of well known sports people or people in your life, that often succeed, but don’t beat themselves up when they don’t.


Research also shows that if we can reduce our levels of self criticism, this will actually lead to better performance.