mental health counselling sussex

The Difficulty of Perfectionism


Society seems to place values on things that appear perfect. However, as human beings, it is not possible to reach a state of perfection. We will always be a work in progress as we are constantly changing. Perfection indicates a finality – a finished product – but we as humans are continually evolving and growing.

What is Perfectionism?

Many of us see perfectionism as a positive attribute. The more “perfect” I am, the more success and happiness I will have in life. However, perfectionism is not the same thing as doing your best. Those with perfectionist tendencies often have self-defeating thoughts and behaviours that make it more challenging to achieve goals. In addition, perfectionism can cause exhaustion, causing stress, anxiety, and depression, compromising our mental health.

Signs to Look For

Most of us will strive for perfectionism in some aspect of our lives. But some of us put pressure on ourselves to be “full-time” perfectionists.

Below are some ways in which you may be suffering from perfectionism:

  • It is challenging to attempt tasks or activities unless you feel you can complete them perfectly.
  • You are goal-oriented; you don’t focus on the process of doing, putting emphasis only on the outcome.
  • A task does not feel complete unless it meets exceptionally high standards.
  • It is easy to procrastinate if it feels hard to complete something perfectly, meaning that it can take far longer to complete tasks than others, creating different problems.

Getting Help

Perfectionism is not the same thing as doing your best. Instead, it is a situation whereby it can become impossible to feel pride or joy at what is accomplished. We can then develop tendencies to think we are never quite good enough, creating paralysis and hopelessness.

If perfectionism is causing you or your relationship stress, there are things you can do. If you’d like to explore this more, please reach out to me. I am seeing my clients in Hove or online globally.

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