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“Reaching for the stars, perfectionists may end up clutching at air,” famous psychologist David Burns warned.”

There’s a strong probability you’re a perfectionist if you’ve ever sobbed over receiving a B+ or coming in second place.

Because they insist on having high expectations and work tirelessly to satisfy them, perfectionists frequently receive praise in our culture. Furthermore, perfectionists are typically excellent achievers; yet, the cost of their achievement may be long-term sadness and dissatisfaction.

Black Swan levels of perfectionism are not necessary for it to have a negative impact on your life and health. The unfavourable impacts of one’s own need for excellence can be felt by even casual perfectionists (who may not even consider themselves to be perfectionists).

Everyone is aware of someone who demands perfection. one who takes far too long to complete even the simplest things, frequently driving both oneself and other people crazy in the process.

Many of us have a part of our lives where we are total perfectionists, whether it be with our jobs, leisure activities, or our relationships. And while the thing we’re concentrating on improves as a result of our high expectations, many other things frequently suffer. And occasionally we are the one who suffers.

Depression, anxiety, and anger are often companions of perfectionism when they appear.

You can take a quick test at the end of this article to find out if you are a perfectionist.

What Is Perfectionism?

Aspiring for perfection and having high-performance standards, together with critical self-evaluations and worries about other people’s opinions, are traits of the perfectionist personality type. As there are numerous positive and negative characteristics, psychologists agree that it is best thought of as a multifaceted feature. In its maladaptive form, perfectionism pushes people to strive for impossibly high standards or lofty objectives, which frequently results in unhappiness and low self-esteem.

Pavel G. Somov, a psychologist, identified four categories of perfectionism. In essence, the first three of them are “software” issues. Re-programming is the answer to “software-type” perfectionism. The perfectionism of the Hyper-Attentive variety is a “hardware” (brain) problem. The four types are listed below.

  1. Neurotic Perfectionism

The “desire for approval” is the driving force behind neurotic perfectionism. This is similar to the Conscientious Compulsive subtype of OCPD, neurotic perfectionism (Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder).

These people “display a conforming compliance to norms and authority, and a ready subordination to the wishes, values, expectations, and demands of others,” according to the definition given above. “A strong sense of obligation, which conceals underlying sentiments of personal inadequacy,” is what they possess. They worry that if they don’t do properly, people would forsake them and judge them.

Nobody calls neurotic perfectionists weak. Their egos have been hurt. They are victims of inadequate parenting, social pressures, and sometimes abuse. They have been taught to feel horrible about themselves and to placate, adapt, and please others. For instance, a neurotic perfectionist might spend the entire night worrying about the anniversary present he bought for his wife and come to the conclusion that it is insultingly subpar, that she will hate it, and that he must exchange it for something better, more ideal, or else she might leave him, which would confirm that he is unlovable.

  1. Narcissistic Perfectionism

Remember the Greek legend of Narcissus, who could not stop gazing at the reflection of himself in a pond due to his awe? Mirrors are essential to narcissists. No, not necessarily, but rather on the reflections of social input.

Contrary to popular belief, even though they may appear haughty, narcissists are not necessarily arrogant. Simply put, they are unhappy with themselves. If you see yourself in this, you probably had a narcissistic parent as a child. Tragically, most narcissists are the offspring of narcissists. Your sense of self may have been lost as a result of having an insecure parent as a child since it served as a mirror for their weak ego. Now, perhaps, just like your parents, the only way you can feel unique is to demand special treatment, to insist on others following your demands without question, and to want nothing short of absolute perfection from them.

Clinically speaking, Bureaucratic Compulsive OCPD is similar to narcissistic perfectionism. As their name implies, bureaucratic compulsives enjoy being in a position of authority. For example, they are anxious to show off their “knowledge of the rules;” they are “effectiveness with red tape;” “punctual and precise;” they prefer to appraise “their own and other’ jobs with black-and-white efficiency, as done or not done”.

In conclusion, they are intolerant of flaws since they believe it reflects poorly on them. Then, and only then, will people buy into the perfect reflection in the social mirror and finally feel good about themselves, even if it’s only for a moment if they are perfect and everything around them is great.

  1. Principled Perfectionism

Principled Perfectionism is morals- and ethics-focused. Principled perfectionists run the risk of imposing their beliefs on others because they are so fervently passionate about what they hold to be true. They aim for moral excellence and hold themselves to the highest standards. As a result, they may be quite critical of the flaws in others in addition to being extremely hard on themselves.

The traits of Puritanical Compulsives, who might be described as self-righteous, ardent, unyielding, indignant, dogmatic, and judgemental, are closely compared to those of principled perfectionists. The so-called “world-oriented perfectionism,” which is described as “the assumption that precise, right, and perfect solutions to all human and global problems exist,” is similar to principled perfectionism. Don’t feel too awful if you see yourself in this; idealism is simply naivety, and righteousness is fundamentally excitement. It’s not awful of you to desire to preserve the world.

  1. Hyper-Attentive Perfectionism

A cognitive style that is especially hyper-attentive and perfectionism may be connected. Some compulsives have been described as being unable to quit concentrating because they are so adept at it; they are unable to skim a page and must carefully examine each word. These stimulus-bound cognitive types are “quickly distracted and upset by new knowledge or external occurrences,” according to research. The inability to understand “‘the emotional tone’ of social situations” and social deficiencies may be related to this information-processing method.

So what we have here is a situation where an attentional deficiency leads to a social deficit, where the person then relies on striving to be flawless in order to avoid social rejection, isolation, and condemnation. Attention training and perhaps psychiatric medication are the remedies for this “hardware” sort of perfectionism.

What Perfectionism Is and Isn’t

Striving to be your best or dedication to excellence is not the same as perfectionism. Perfectionism does not promote growth and good performance. The idea of perfectionism holds that we may lessen or even completely avoid the agony of blame, criticism, and shame if we live perfectly, appear perfectly, and behave perfectly. Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we carry around in the hopes that it will shield us, but it’s actually what’s holding us back from flying.

Self-improvement is not perfectionism. At its foundation, perfectionism is about seeking acceptance and approval. Most people who strive for perfection were encouraged to succeed and perform well as children (grades, manners, rule-following, people-pleasing, appearance, sports). We acquire this harmful and crippling belief system along the way: “I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it.”

The main idea behind perfectionism is that “if I look flawless, live perfectly, and do everything perfectly, I can escape or minimise the terrible feelings of guilt, condemnation, and blame.” Perfectionism is a toxic and compulsive belief system.

Because we invariably experience guilt, condemnation, and blame, perfectionism is addictive because it leads us to believe that we weren’t good enough. As a result, we become even more enmeshed in our effort to live, appear, and do everything perfectly, rather than challenging the flawed logic of perfectionism.

How to Tell Whether You’re a Perfectionist

  • You’ve always been eager to please. Perfectionism frequently begins as a child. We are taught to aim high when we are young; parents and teachers praise their kids for their accomplishments and award them gold stars (and in some cases, punish them for failing to measure up). Early on, perfectionists learn to live by the motto, “I achieve, therefore I am,” and nothing makes them happier than outdoing themselves or others in performance. Unfortunately, striving for those straight A’s can result in a lifetime of frustration and self-doubt in school, the workplace, and in life.
  • You are aware that your obsession with perfection is harming you, but you see it as the price you must pay to succeed. The typical perfectionist is someone who adopts a “no pain, no gain” mentality in their quest for greatness and will go to considerable (and frequently unhealthy) measures to avoid being average or mediocre. Although perfectionists don’t always excel academically, they are commonly linked to workaholism. “[The perfectionist] knows that his unrelenting demands are taxing and sometimes ridiculous, but he believes they propel him to levels of excellence and productivity he could never achieve otherwise,” writes Burns. The great irony of perfectionism is that, despite having a strong desire to succeed, it can actually stand in the way of success. Fear of failure, which is typically not the best motivator, and self-defeating behaviour, such as excessive procrastination, are strongly associated with perfectionism.
  • Research has demonstrated a connection between procrastination and perfectionism.According to York University studies, procrastination is mostly caused by these other-focused perfectionists’ fear of receiving negative feedback from others. On the other hand, adaptive perfectionists are less likely to procrastinate.
  • You’re highly critical of others. It’s a common psychological defence strategy to judge others because we can’t accept certain aspects of ourselves. And there can be a lot to reject for perfectionists. Few things escape the critical eye of a perfectionist because they are exceedingly selective. Some perfectionists may discover that they start loosening up on themselves by being less harsh on others.
  • You may either go big or go home. Many perfectionists suffer from black-and-white thinking, which says that depending on your most recent success or loss, you’re either a success or a failure. They also act in extremes. If you have perfectionist inclinations, you’ll generally only dive headfirst into a new activity or project if you have high hopes of succeeding; otherwise, you’ll usually steer clear of it. According to studies, risk aversion in perfectionists can stifle creativity and innovation. So, it is not unexpected that perfectionists are more likely to develop eating disorders.
  • You have a hard time opening up to other people. You find it difficult to trust others. Perfectionism is a “20-ton shield” that we carry about to protect ourselves from harm, according to author and researcher Brene Brown, but in most situations, it only keeps us from actually connecting with people.
  • You’re never “there yet,” either. Because achieving perfection is obviously impossible, perfectionists frequently feel as though they are still working on it. Christina Aguilera, a self-described perfectionist, claimed to always strive to surpass herself because she dwells on all the things she hasn’t yet accomplished.
  • You often feel guilty. Beneath it all, perfectionists frequently struggle with shame and guilt. Maladaptive perfectionism is strongly connected with melancholy, anxiety, shame, and guilt. It is characterized by a drive for perfection that typically has societal roots and a sense of pressure to succeed that comes from outside sources rather than from inside.
  • If you make a mistake, everything is over. You overdramatize and exaggerate the significance and effects of any errors you may or may not make. And you might believe that if you commit those errors, you won’t survive.
  • You believe the “if…then” proposition—if you can only perform perfectly or be perfect, then you will truly be successful/happy, at peace with yourself.
  • You have difficulty making decisions. Perfectionists seldom come to a decision because they are so concerned about making the wrong choice. If the person is fortunate, someone else will make the choice and take responsibility for the result. The choice is more frequently made automatically.

Research on Perfectionism

Released in 2010, The Gifts of Imperfection is a New York Times bestseller by researcher, speaker, and author Brené Brown. The book explores the theory and practices behind “Wholehearted living”: a concept Brown devised after years of research into shame, vulnerability, and self-worth. According to Brown, living wholeheartedly will help you to cultivate worthiness: the conviction that you are good enough as you are and that you deserve to be loved.

Brown argues the following:

  1. Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: “If I look perfect and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of blame, judgment, and shame.”
  1. Perfectionism is unattainable It’s more about perception than internal motivation, and there is no way to control perception, no matter how much time and energy is spent trying.
  2. Perfectionism is addictive, because when we invariably do experience shame, judgement and blame, we often believe it’s because we weren’t perfect enough. Rather than questioning the faulty logic of perfectionism, we become even more entrenched in our quest to look and do everything just right.
  3. Perfectionism actually sets us up to feel shame, judgment and blame, which then leads to more shame, judgment and blame: “It’s my fault. I’m feeling this way because I’m not good enough.” 

But, it turns out that perfectionism isn’t anything to be proud of, not even modestly, because there’s nothing positive about it. According to remarkable research by Thomas Curran and Andrew P. Hill of the University of Bath and York St. John University, respectively, perfectionism doesn’t make you better at anything. A thorough evaluation of studies conducted between 1989 and 2016 by Curran and Hill examined the evolution of perfectionism rates as well as their psychological impacts.

The outcomes are unsettling. First, they discovered that perfectionism is linked to a variety of mental diseases, such as suicide ideation and self-harm as well as depression, social anxiety, agoraphobia, anorexia, and insomnia. Then they discovered that perfectionism is becoming more prevalent, particularly among young adults and even youngsters.

For instance, Hill and Curran found that having very high personal standards had little to no positive effects on athletes, professionals, and students compared to those who didn’t have them in a 2016 meta-analysis of 43 studies on perfectionism and burnout. On the other hand, those who displayed more “maladaptive” perfectionism were much more likely to become burned out.

There has been some speculation that perfectionism may occasionally be beneficial and desirable. “We believe it is a misunderstanding based on the roughly 60 research we’ve conducted,” says Hill of York St. John University. “Putting in a lot of effort, being dedicated, careful, and other qualities are all excellent traits. To a perfectionist, however, such are merely symptoms or by-products of what perfectionism actually is. High standards are not what perfectionism is about. It has to do with irrational standards.”

In a study involving more than 1,000 Chinese students, researchers discovered that bright students exhibited higher levels of adaptive perfectionism. On the other hand, maladaptive perfectionists were more likely to be non-gifted. Furthermore, while studies have shown that “adaptive” traits like striving for success have no effect at all or may even protect you from depression, other studies have shown that “maladaptive” traits like beating yourself up for mistakes or believing you can’t live up to parental expectations have no effect at all or may even protect you.

Even when researchers took into account personality qualities like neuroticism, evidence demonstrates that perfectionistic impulses predict problems like depression, anxiety, and stress. Making matters worse, having negative thoughts about oneself may trigger depressed symptoms, which may in turn exacerbate negative thoughts about oneself, creating a distressing cycle.

Perfectionism is not the only thing that leads to mental health issues; some of these issues itself can lead to perfectionism. For instance, a recent study indicated that college students with social anxiety were more likely to develop into perfectionists over the course of a year, but not the other way around.

It has also been demonstrated that self-compassion, which perfectionists lack, is one of the strongest defences against anxiety and despair. Moreover, depression is predicted by the perfectionists’ propensity for self-criticism.

Several studies have also discovered that perfectionism is a fatal factor on its own when it comes to the most dramatic example, suicide. One revealed that perfectionism made depressed individuals more prone to think about suicide even above and beyond emotions of hopelessness. A recent meta-analysis, the most complete on the suicide-perfectionism link to date, found that nearly every perfectionistic tendency – including being concerned over mistakes, feeling like you are never good enough, having critical parents, or simply having high personal standards – was correlated with thinking about suicide more frequently.

One 2015 study of gifted suburban adolescents, for example, revealed “significantly higher scores of perfectionism (particularly harmful characteristics) than earlier studies”. A decade-long investigation of adolescent Czech math whizzes found the same.

In their book When Perfect Isn’t Good Enough: Strategies for Coping with Perfectionism, authors Martin Anthony and Richard Swinson refer to previous research which says people with high levels of perfectionism are at a greater risk of experiencing depression than non-perfectionists, especially during periods of stress and after experiencing failure.

In the book Too Perfect: When Being in Control Goes Out of Control, writers Jeanette Dewyze and Allan Mallinger contend the non-perfectionist doesn’t need to be correct all the time. His security doesn’t depend upon having a flawless record or being considered as the ideal person. But when he does achieve a goal or conquer an obstacle, he experiences contentment, fulfilment, and even delight. The perfectionist, on the other hand, is inclined to see any given activity or interaction as a test that will indicate his adequacy. Therefore it’s always necessary for him to do things correctly, now the answer, make the “right” decisions. To perfectionists, being wrong isn’t as essential as being right

Perfectionism Tied To Workaholism In a New Study

Being highly motivated and a perfectionist may seem like dream traits in an employee, but a recent study reveals they could also backfire by contributing to workaholism.

However, not all kinds of perfectionism are alike when it comes to turning into a workaholic. What the University of Kent researchers termed “self-oriented perfectionism,” which is when a person sets incredibly high standards for his or herself, was linked with workaholism, while “socially prescribed perfectionism,” which is when a person believes he or she needs to meet others’ high standards to receive acceptance, was not.

“Our findings also suggest that workaholism in self-oriented perfectionists is driven by those types of motivation characterized by personal importance and ego involvement as well as being motivated by internal rewards and punishment,” study researcher Dr. Joachim Stoeber, who is the head of the School of Psychology said in a statement.

The study, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, is based on data from 131 people (comprised of both service employees and students who were working part-time) who were mostly female. All the study participants took tests gauging their perfectionism and work motivation, as well as their workaholism (work addiction).

Researchers found that “employees whose work motivation is characterized by high degrees of congruence and awareness of reasons and goals being in synthesis with the self (identified regulation) and/or by high degrees of self-control and ego-involvement and being motivated by internal rewards and punishments (introjected regulation) are more likely to show elevated levels of workaholism compared to employees whose work motivation displays these characteristics to lower degrees,” they wrote in the study.

Because they insist on having high expectations and work tirelessly to satisfy them, perfectionists frequently receive praise in our culture. Furthermore, perfectionists are typically excellent achievers; yet, the cost of their achievement may be long-term sadness and dissatisfaction.

The relationship that exists between perfectionistic tendencies and methods of coping with stress has also been examined in some detail. One recent study found that college students with adaptive perfectionistic traits, such as goal fixation or high standards of performance, were more likely to utilize active or problem-focused coping.

Those who displayed maladaptive perfectionistic tendencies, such as rumination over past events or fixation on mistakes, tended to utilize more passive or avoidance coping. Despite these differences, both groups tended to utilize self-criticism as a coping method. This is consistent with theories that conceptualize self-criticism as a central element of perfectionism.

“There’s a difference between excellence and perfection,” explains Miriam Adderholdt, a psychology instructor at Davidson Community College in Lexington, North Carolina, and author of Perfectionism: What’s Bad About Being Too Good? Excellence involves enjoying what you’re doing, feeling good about what you’ve learned, and developing confidence. Perfection involves feeling bad about a 98/100 and always finding mistakes no matter how well you’re doing. A child makes all As and one B. All it takes is a parent raising an eyebrow for the child to get the message, the author contends.

The truly subversive aspect of perfectionism, however, is that it leads people to conceal their mistakes. Unfortunately, that strategy prevents a person from getting crucial feedback—feedback that both confirms the value of mistakes and affirms self-worth—leaving no way to counter the belief that worth hinges on performing perfectly. The desire to conceal mistakes eventually forces people to avoid situations in which they are mistake-prone—often seen in athletes who reach a certain level of performance and then abandon the sport altogether.

Perfectionism is self-defeating in still other ways. The incessant worry about mistakes actually undermines performance. Canadian psychologists Gordon L. Flett and Paul L. Hewitt studied the debilitating effects on athletes of anxiety over perfect performance. They uncovered “the perfection paradox.” “Even though certain sports require athletes to achieve perfect performance outcomes, the tendency to be cognitively preoccupied with the attainment of perfection often undermines performance.” Overconcern about mistakes orients them to failure.

What Can Be Done About Perfectionism?

  1. Strive to accept yourself completely. Perfectionists frequently hold people to high standards. We reject in others what we can’t accept in ourselves as a protective mechanism, and the more we focus on our own flaws, the more we pick at those of others around us. These intense emotions result from picturing the ideal self and existence, and they are a scary filter that we are unable to remove from reality. We need to be kind to ourselves if we want to break this habit. When we accept ourselves, with all of our “flaws” and “imperfections,” we are much less inclined to be sour pussy jerks who scrutinize everyone else.
  2. Create and trigger rituals. We’re terrified of so many things as perfectionists. Beginning new ventures, making incorrect choices in life, and selecting a spouse all have this thing in common: a fear of failing. It renders us uncertain and dependent on outside guidance. In The Creative Habit: Learn It and Apply It For Life, Twyla Tharp provides examples. A professional golfer may converse with his caddie, playing partner, a friendly official, or the scorekeeper while they go along the fairway, but as they get behind the ball and take a deep breath, they are telling themselves it is time to focus. When a basketball player approaches the free-throw line, he touches his socks and shorts, gets the ball, bounces it precisely three times, and is then prepared to stand and shoot, just as he has done a hundred times daily in practice. They remove uncertainty and dread and replace it with familiarity and routine by automating the beginning of the sequence.
  3. Lower the stakes. We constantly put so much pressure on ourselves to have fun—no, the most fun that has ever been enjoyed in the history of fun-having—while basking in the glory of anticipation. It’s excessive. Because we put unrealistic demands on ourselves, we end up leaving gatherings and activities unhappily, giving the impression that we have somewhere better to go and are with people who are much more interesting.
  4. Grieve unfulfilled dreams. Few of us end up being the people we drew in crayon when we were five; no matter who we are, it’s rare that we are the people we imagined ourselves to be. And in particular, perfectionists need to accept that. We need to constantly feel confident in our own skin and proud of our achievements because we battle the ideas that we are never enough or never amount to anything. Hence, make a list. Put down your accomplishments over the past week, month, or year, and watch your value emerge on paper.
  5. Recognize what perfection means to you. Ask yourself: “What does being “perfect” mean to me in this situation?” before beginning every new project. Under the perfection rubric, you’ll likely have a few reasonable and practical objectives, such as ensuring that your cover letter is error-free and has specific content relevant to the position you’re looking for. Once you have a clear understanding of what “perfect” means to you in each specific circumstance, you can begin to assess the significance of each goal and the degree to which it will actually affect your success (and accept the possibility that you won’t be able to achieve “perfection” in every situation—and that’s totally OK).
  6. Get to know well the individuals for whom you are striving for perfection. It’s simple to spend all of your time thinking about how to make yourself look better in the eyes of your client, boss, or potential employer when you’re concerned with being flawless. So you must put them front and centre if you want to produce something truly outstanding that those people can relate to. Take a step back from the product you’re going to launch, for example, and focus on the customers you built it for.
  7. Disrupt the perfectionism-procrastination link. You can become your own worst enemy when procrastination and perfectionism are combined. You can spend your time more effectively and achieve more with less stress if you liberate yourself from this laborious procedure. When you feel anxious and worry about performing poorly, your fear is usually related to how you will feel about yourself or how other people will perceive you.

What educators and parents can do?

Perfectionism may be influenced by a variety of elements. Performance is frequently heavily emphasized both at home and at school. Also, it is ingrained in our culture to assess intelligence based on test results and grades. Young children naturally come to the conclusion that their value as persons lies in what they can produce when they feel like their accomplishments are on display and being rewarded for them. As time goes on and the kids keep getting better, they feel less free to try new things and more pressure to achieve the grades that will win everyone over.

Even young toddlers could forbid themselves from making mistakes and steer clear of situations that might expose their frailties. They frequently try to cover up their knowledge gaps out of fear of disappointing those who look up to them.

Perfectionism is dangerous because it stifles children’s natural desire to learn and robs them of the excitement they once had in the midst of a new discovery, question, or creation. Regrettably, these kids frequently grow up to be persistently underachievers who are afraid to attempt anything new.

The list of actions that follow demonstrates how perfectionism robs people of their inner, natural desire and motivation to learn. Children who are perfectionists often:

  • Avoid trying new things for fear of failure;
  • Procrastinate and leave work unfinished out of fear it won’t be good enough;
  • Focus on mistakes, rather than on what they did well;
  • Set unrealistic goals and then condemn themselves when they don’t achieve them;
  • Have trouble accepting criticism;
  • Find it hard to laugh at themselves;
  • Focus on end products, rather than on the process of learning;
  • Approach assignments with an inflexibility that insists on one “right” way to do or be;
  • Judge themselves severely whenever they get a grade below an “A”;
  • Lose their former enthusiasm for learning because of an obsession with what “good work” should look like; and
  • Underachieve because of an inability to complete projects considered less than “perfect.”

We want kids to reach their full potential as parents and educators. The definition of “potential” is crucial, though. Pursuing excellence shouldn’t equate to seeking perfection. “Their potential” refers to the kids’ ability to fully explore and develop their own abilities, interests, learning preferences, etc. Experience has taught us that talented kids, in particular, naturally strive for excellence and need unique support to deal with the ups and downs (successes and failures) that come with their level of achievement.

Wanting children to reach their full potential and expecting them to excel in everything they do are two very different things. You can assist kids to fight perfectionism when you’re clear that inner achievement—the growth of critical thinking abilities, the expansion of creative imagination, the capacity for risk-taking, and the thrill of discovery—is far more significant than good grades and accolades.

Developmental psychologist Luc Goossens and colleagues at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium have distinguished two different psychological regulation forms.

One is the parents’ own extreme preoccupation with errors and perfectionism. Only when children meet high criteria do parents approve of them. Perfectionist parents exert psychological control over their children, which causes them to become self-critical. These strategies are subtle and indirect, such as a sigh, a deliberate pause, or a raised eyebrow.

Parents’ separation fear is another element of control. A child’s ongoing development brings the risk of emotional loss and desertion to the parent; as a result, the parents are too attached to their children and concerned about their growing independence. Such parents make their children feel guilty and only accept their actions when the kids are close to them and dependent on them. When their own adult relationships aren’t gratifying, parents frequently turn to keep their kids dependent.

Parents who use psychological control tend to prioritize their own demands over their children’s developmental requirements, whether motivated by a need for status or a fear of loss.

Do You Have Perfectionist Beliefs? Take this Mini-Assessment

Rate the intensity with which you believe each of these statements, with 100 percent indicating complete agreement and 0 percent indicating that you do not believe it at all.

____ I must be perfect or I will be rejected.

____ If I make a mistake, it will be horrible.

____ If I do it perfectly, then I will be accepted.

____ I must be perfect or I will be embarrassed.

____ If I make a mistake, I will be humiliated.

____ When I get it right, I will finally accept myself.

____ When I achieve perfection, I will find inner peace.

____ If I do it perfectly, then it will be rewarded.

____ If others do not approve of me, then I am not OK.

____ If I make a mistake, then I am worthless.

____ I’m not good enough. I must keep trying.

____ I must be perfect or others will disapprove of me.

____ If I do it perfectly, then everything will work out right.

____ I’ll never be good enough.

____ If others approve of me, then I must be OK.

____ If I do it perfectly, then everyone will notice.

____ I must be perfect or I will fail.

____ Things should be done the right way.

____ There is a right way and a wrong way to do things.

____ It is possible to do things perfectly.


There is substantial compelling evidence that for the most part shows perfectionism is a negative characteristic and set of behaviors, and in the most severe forms is harmful to one’s mental and emotional health. You must make a distinction between striving for excellence which is doing the best you can which is both desirable and healthy vs. perfectionism which can clearly be harmful.