What is perfectionism?


In a previous post, we shared how to get rid of perfectionism. But what is perfectionism and why would one want to get rid of it? After all, it sounds like a good thing to be perfect; moreover, it helps you become a high achiever.

Perfectionism is the need for everything to be flawless, perfect or correct. Psychology today says perfectionism is a trait that makes life an endless report card on accomplishments and looks. It sucks the joy out of life because you’re always left with a thirst for excellence.

Furthermore, it is considered to be associated with self-esteem issues because the perfectionist feels they must do certain things, look, or act a certain way to be accepted as a person. They never feel good enough and are never satisfied with their lives.

Perfectionists want their partners, children or relatives to act or talk a certain way. Their colleagues must do things in a certain way and produce results that are orderly and excellent. They feel they must always be around to control or influence the outcome of someone or something.

The three dimensions of perfectionism

Self-oriented perfectionism; desire to be perfect and outstanding, placing unrealistic expectations on oneself.

Other-oriented perfectionism; placing unrealistic standards of perfection on others.

Socially prescribed perfectionism; perception of unrealistic expectations from others or the society. Thinking “I have to look this way, achieve these things or do this to be socially acceptable”.

Perfectionism is not considered a form of mental illness in itself, however, it is a common factor in mental disorders including obsessive-compulsive disorder and other personality disorders.

Perfectionism has been linked to the following

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Loneliness
  • Eating disorders
  • Poor body image
  • Stress and burnouts
  • Personality disorders
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Unrelenting standards
  • Lack of satisfaction in self-performance and that of others

Why is perfectionism bad?

Trying to please a perfectionist is like pouring water into an ocean, or trying to grasp the wind. No matter what you do, it’s just never good enough. Perfectionism makes you demand so much from people, thereby exhausting the very life out of them and making you a toxic person. Nobody wants to feel inadequate in any given relationship. And that’s exactly how one feels when they have to put up with a perfectionist. This pushes people away. Those who stay are rarely happy to be around you and they endure either because they love you too much to leave or have no other choice but to stick around.

Not only does perfectionism hurt your relationships with the people around you, but also the relationship with yourself. It crushes your self-esteem and strips you of self-love. Self-esteem influences how much you love and value yourself. If you have low self-esteem, you’re likely to have low self-worth. Naturally, you will end up looking down on yourself and possibly loathe your very existence. People that have low self-esteem usually make toxic partners. It’s hard to love selflessly when you can’t even love yourself.

Learn how to get rid of perfectionism here.

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