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  • Writer's pictureOlive Von Topp

How Perfectionism Is Ruining Your Life

Okay, that may sound harsh, but chances are if you’re a perfectionist, it’s impacting your life in more negative ways than positive ones. Not sure if you are perfectionist? Find out now with this helpful quiz.

As a perfectionist, you might be ‘successful’. You may have reached some of your goals. You may look like you have it together on the outside. But inside your life is a different story.

Perfectionism is the need to be perfect, without flaws. Perfectionists tend to base their value or worth (aka loveability) in their achievements, performance, and just by being flawless, you know, perfect.

They are often extremely hard-working, busy, goal-oriented, and pay great attention to detail. Sounds great so far, right?

Perfectionists are also often extremely hard on themselves, are afraid of making mistakes (and often punish or berate themselves when they do), have exceptionally high standards, are afraid of criticism (though highly critical of themselves) and what people think or of disappointing people. And these qualities can have a domino effect on a few areas of your life - in a bad way.

1. Stress

If you are a perfectionist (or maybe just learning that you might be), stress is probably one of the areas of your life most impacted by perfectionism.

If you base your worth on your own productivity, achievements, performance, etc, you are always going to be hustling to prove your worth. And because you will stop at nothing short of perfect (and perfect doesn’t exist), you will never stop. Which, is stressful and will wear on you in time.

Trying to maintain a façade of having your shit together and everything being perfect is fucking tiring. And stressful.

If you’re afraid of disappointing people, you might be afraid of saying “no”, filling your time doing things for others, which can be stressful and even lead to resentment.

If your boundaries are shit (saying yes to everything, working all hours of the day), you’re likely going to be stressed.

If you’re afraid of making a mistake, you may spend countless hours trying to finish things, going over for mistakes, redoing them, etc. Which can also lead to stress.

And stress, as we know, can lead to all kinds of other health issues.

2. Lack of joy

If you’re stressed all the time, it’s fair to say, you probably aren’t experiencing much joy. One of the greatest travesties of perfectionism is that you don’t even get to enjoy your accomplishments. Nothing ever feels satisfactory or good enough.

You achieve one thing and it’s onto the next.

When you manage to meet the impossible standards or goals you set for yourselves, you likely don’t feel any joy or even a sense of accomplishment. This is partly because you don’t think any differently about yourself when you get there, even though you thought by achieving the thing/goal you would (ie. finally feel like enough).

Despite perhaps being rather ‘successful’, perfectionists don’t feel it.

Because perfectionists are striving to achieve to prove their worth through achievements, they don’t allow themselves any joy in the process. It becomes only about the end goal, not about who they become, what they learned, or what they experience getting there.

And obviously, there is little joy in constantly being so darn hard on yourself.

Perfectionists may have a hard time relaxing, resting, or just making time for play and pleasure. And like, where is the joy in that?

3. Missing out on things

If we are afraid to make mistakes because we are afraid of looking imperfect, if we make failure mean something about our worth, then we are less likely to take risks in life. And this is a great travesty. Risks are what enhance our lives. Where we grow as people. Where joy lies.

What opportunities have you missed out on because you were too afraid to take a chance? Too afraid to look foolish or to fail? Too afraid to not be perfect?

What time with loved ones have you missed because you were too busy with work or school or doing ‘all the things’ trying to be perfect?

For many people, the pain of not doing something at all is better than the pain of trying and failing. And so some perfectionists choose to do nothing instead of try.

4. Procrastination

This may seem counter- intuitive but procrastination shows up a lot for perfectionists.

If you’re afraid of failure/not doing it perfectly, it can be really hard to get started on something.

Have you ever tried to write the perfect something and you can’t because nothing you put on paper is good enough? But then when the deadline comes and you just need to get something done, it flows freely and actually turns out not too bad? Yeah?

For some perfectionists, this can apply to multiple areas of their lives. Some may put stuff off, cry about it, try and decide it’s not good enough, put it off some more, convince themselves they’re imposters and that everyone is going to figure out they’re flawed, cry some more, put it off some more, until they finally have no choice but to give up or just do it. Either way, it’s mighty (and needlessly) stressful getting there (see point 1).

5. Relationships

Given all the ways perfectionism can manifest, it should come as no surprise that your relationships may suffer because you are always working, trying, doing, attempting to be perfect, achieving your next goal.

If you don’t take time for connection & the people in your life, it’s likely going to take a toll on your relationships in the long term.

Perfectionists can also be highly critical of others and have unrealistic expectations. They can often demand a lot and be easily disappointed in people when they don’t meet said expectations. I’m sure you can imagine how that could affect your relationships.

These are just a few ways perfectionism could be negatively impacting your life. If you’re tired of it and ready for a change that will bring more ease and joy into your life, I have just the thing. I have designed an 8-week course to tackle the roots of your perfectionist thinking and behaviours... and the next session is starting September 29th!


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