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"5 Subtle Signs You Might be a Perfectionist"

People often confuse high-achieving behavior with perfectionistic behavior. On the contrary, high achievers are dedicated, determined individuals who have a strong desire to accomplish something important to them.


What is Perfectionism?


Perfectionism is a personality trait characterized by high standards, rigid expectations and specific ideas about achieving a desired outcome.


Who is a Perfectionist?


Perfectionists tend to be organized and reliable but can also become overly anxious and critical when their expectations are not met. True perfectionists aren't trying to be perfect, they are avoiding not being good enough. This avoidance dictates much of their behaviour, and it's linked to depression, eating disorders, and even suicide. Perfectionists are held to strange double standards in our society, where they are simultaneously admired for their achievements while also criticized for being overly rigid, controlling, and “type-A.”


Harmful Signs of Perfectionism


Perfectionistic traits are not inherently harmful, but certain expressions of these traits can lead to secondary consequences on a person’s mental health, functioning, and overall quality of life. Some examples include:


1. Your life feels unsatisfying


Perfectionists cope well in a low-stress environment, so as long as nothing challenges you, you're fine. Think about it, when was the last time you weren't challenged by life? If you get anxious by the thought of being a little challenged you might be a perfectionist. This is because when problems occur, your anxiety often increases, which offers the illusion that nothing is going well. This tends to decrease life satisfaction.

Common Side Effects May Include:

  • Higher levels of depression

  • Increased risk of suicide

  • Increased self-consciousness and insecurities


2. You can’t trust others to do a task correctly, so you rarely delegate


Perfectionists have little patience for people who don’t meet their standards and are critical of those around them. Consequently, their relationships often suffer. Others might see them as micro-managers or control freaks, but you see your actions as just wanting to get the job done right. Whatever “it” is, it’s better if you just do it yourself. As a result, everything takes longer and perfectionists often feel exhausted


Common Side Effects May Include:

  • Hostility or anger toward others

  • Difficulty forming close, trusting relationships

  • Hypersensitivity to criticism and judgment of other


3. You view mistakes as proof you're inadequate


Have you ever wanted to send out an invitation and you were utterly obsessed about what it looked like? Took you months to share that website, article, or speech with others because you wanted to ensure your work is perfect before revealing it? If the answer is yes, you are likely a PERFECTIONIST! While an individual with a healthy mindset allows for mistakes, an extreme perfectionist doesn't allow for or forgive their mistakes. Instead of viewing mistakes as a learning opportunity, they criticize and pressure themselves for being less-than-perfect.

They feel inadequate and these feelings preoccupy their mind.


Common Side Effects May Include:

  • Intense fear of failure

  • Higher levels of stress

  • Difficulty regulating emotions

  • Lower levels of life satisfaction


4. Your self-confidence depends on what you accomplish and how others react to you.


Perfectionists fear they’ll be judged harshly for their flaws. To escape that judgment, they try to keep up the appearance of perfection. Many of them have mastered the ability to convince other people everything is “just perfect” even when they feel like everything is falling apart. You don't allow others to see your flaws. You talk about your achievements, but never your failures. You strive for excellence and need validation from others to feel good about your accomplishments. What’s more, once you have achieved a goal, you quickly move on to the next one.


Common Side Effects May Include:

  • Low self-esteem

  • Conditional self-worth

  • Lack of confidence in skills and abilities

  • Impaired performance and lowered goal achievement


5. You procrastinate or avoid situations where you think you might not excel.


Perfectionists are more concerned with showing off their current skills, rather than learning new ones. It may seem counterintuitive, but many people who procrastinate or avoid doing something are actually perfectionists. They're afraid they will fail. Their rationale is, “I might not be able to do it perfectly, so why bother at all?” Since perfection is an illusion, the pursuit of it is never complete and neither are your projects. You are in a constant battle with the decisions and motivation to complete goals. The "what ifs" and expectations of a negative consequence preoccupy your mind and the pressure can be overwhelming.


Common Side Effects May Include:

  • Lower levels of motivation

  • Procrastination

  • Higher likelihood of giving up when a mistake is made

  • More illnesses and infections





Is perfectionism a problem for you? Speak with a therapist or call 416 949 9878 and book a free no obligation discovery call today.​​ Our licensed therapists provide convenient and affordable online therapy. Go to www.georgetowncouplestherapy.com to learn more.

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