Perfectionists are never happy with what they achieve, they can always do better and will often experience feelings of failure as the goals they set can be unrealistic and many times, impossible to reach.
Some characteristics of perfectionists are: –
Now it’s easy to see how holding such high standards can lead to a range of difficulties, so you –
For some, perfectionism is positive. They use their drive and goals to strive for the life they want. They can push for perfection, without a loss of self-esteem and they also feel pleased about the effort and commitment they make.
For others, the impacts of perfectionism can be negative. They rarely feel satisfied or secure about what they’ve done, frequently being critical of themselves and others, who continue to fall short of perfectionist standards.
The origins or causes of perfectionism are less clear. It could be caused by a fear of judgement, or a way of avoiding any disapproval from others. Early childhood experiences, such as having parents who communicate unrealistic expectations, could play a role. If you believe that your self-worth is based on achievements, perfectionism may find fertile ground to develop.
So, while most would consider having high standards and striving for excellence a good thing, as this enables some of our elite sports people to train long and hard to reach excellence. Perfectionism can involve setting impossible standards and that anything short of perfection is terrible, some believing that minor imperfections are catastrophic. Can you imagine going through life believing that you should never make a mistake?
So when perfectionism is operating you might feel:-
Of course, producing high quality work, with laser like focus and attention to detail is exciting. But when the consequences of imperfection are small, or we need to deliver something quickly which is “good enough”, then perfectionist tendencies can be less than helpful and sometimes harmful.
Therefore, it may be worthwhile considering the standards you use, and how you judge yourself. Would it help to loosen these standards and ease the stress and anxiety of trying so hard to be perfect? Or does even the thought of loosening your standards elicit fear and anxiety?
It is possible to learn techniques that reduce the impact of perfectionism on our life and prevent excessive anxiety. Our therapists use a powerful combination of CBT, counselling and coaching to help you:-
Andrea is a highly experienced relationship therapist and coach, with over 15 years clinical experience providing marriage and relationship counselling. She is passionate about empowering couples to be the best version of themselves and to live their best lives. She can help you and your partner to identify and address the root causes of problematic patterns which have a negative impact on your relationship.
Karen is a highly experienced psychologist, executive and career coach with more than 15 years experience helping adults address a wide range of concerns. Karen draws upon a variety of therapies and coaching skills, tailoring her approach, to best suit the learning style of each client. Karen works proactively. She can help you understand and constructively change problematic beliefs and patterns of behaviour that inhibit your ability to realise your personal goals.
Amanda is a highly experienced Advanced CBT and Integrative therapist with more than 8 years experience. She draws upon a wide range of therapies and works proactively to help clients understand, process and resolve their concerns and conflicts. Amanda can assist you to quickly identify problematic thoughts and behaviours which negatively impact your personal and professional well-being.
Mita is a highly experienced psychotherapist and counsellor with over 20 years of clinical experience. She is passionate about helping clients overcome issues they have been struggling with for months and sometimes years. Mita draws upon a range of therapies including, CBT, Mindfulness and EMDR, which she tailors to best suit each client she works with.
This page was written by Paul Glynn – KlearMinds Clinical Director
MSc Counselling, PG Adv Cert CBT, Adv Cert Clinical Supervision, BPhil, MBACP (Accred) and medically reviewed in March 2022.