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Are You A Perfectionist?

By Richard J. Oldale,
July 21, 2023

Are you a perfectionist and think everybody else should adhere to your high standards? 

Do you expect your partner to be perfect and judge them on their faults — to a fault? How many times have you sabotaged a relationship because there were one or two little things about your partner that bugged you?

Whilst there is nothing wrong with setting high standards, values and goals, if your ideals mean everything has to be perfect it will ruin your enjoyment of life.

Most of us still desire to achieve excellence in certain aspects of our lives. Striving for excellence is a good quality that can lead to success and fulfilment. 

But when perfectionist tendencies are accompanied by feelings of shame, guilt, humiliation, and embarrassment, you need to address why you want everything to be perfect. 

Otherwise, perfectionism will always prevent you from enjoying the moment as it is. And it will almost certainly wreck your relationships with lovers, friends and work colleagues. 

So why are you a perfectionist and is it a healthy trait — or a destructive quality?

In this article, we’ll discuss perfectionism and its characteristics, as well as traits and conditions linked to perfectionism, and how being a perfectionist can affect your well-being.

What Is Perfectionism?

Perfectionism is a personality trait associated with striving to be flawless and often involves being critical of imperfections (Flett & Hewitt, 2002). Although perfectionism can be a healthy motivator in moderation, excessive perfectionism may cause stress and diminish the chances of success. 


Therefore, the ability to distinguish between healthy (adaptive) and unhealthy (maladaptive) perfectionism may help us understand whether we are helping or hurting ourselves. 

Let’s start by delving deeper into the components of perfectionism. Generally speaking, perfectionism has two dimensions: 

  • perfectionist striving and 
  • perfectionist concerns

Perfectionist striving is associated with the pursuit of flawlessness, as well as setting high standards (Stoeber & Otto, 2006; Gade, Schermelleh-Engel & Klein, 2017). 

On the other hand, perfectionist concerns include aspects such as critical evaluation of one’s self and perceived performance in the light of high standards (Gade, Schermelleh-Engel & Klein, 2017). 

A perfectionist typically strives for perfection and is simultaneously concerned about not meeting their expectations. Experts associate perfectionist striving with hopes for success, which can bring about positive outcomes, such as higher levels of performance and self-efficacy (Slade & Owens, 1998). 

In contrast, perfectionist concerns are associated with a fear of failure, which may cause worry and stress (Slade & Owens, 1998). Hence, the balance between these two dimensions may determine whether the perfectionism of an individual is adaptive or maladaptive.

What Is Maladaptive Perfectionism?

Maladaptive perfectionism is associated with elevated perfectionist concern. Therefore, it includes excessive preoccupation and rumination about past mistakes, doubts about achieving goals, fear of failure, and fear of letting others down. 

It also means that you nit-pick every minor detail and allow it to annoy you if it isn’t to your liking — if it isn’t perfect. For example, if you can’t get your hair to go right, you can let it ruin your evening.

These negative emotions may be especially high for things outside the individual’s control. Although adaptive perfectionism can help achieve goals, maladaptive perfectionism can cause severe stress and anxiety (Smith et al., 2018). If not managed, maladaptive perfectionism can hurt the individual’s chances of success and erode their self-esteem​ and confidence.

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Perfectionist Traits

  • All-or-None Thinking: According to a perfectionist, everything can be categorised as either perfect or a failure. Hence, if they notice any mistakes—no matter how minuscule—they tend to see the whole thing as a letdown.
  • Unrealistic Standards: Perfectionists may have extremely high standards. As a result, they may be sensitive to flaws and mistakes and judge everything through these standards and label almost everything imperfect. 
  • Interprets mistakes as failures: A maladapted perfectionist 
  • Worry About Failure: Perfectionists strive for excellence and worry that they will fail to reach their goals. Moreover, due to their all-or-none thinking and unrealistic standards, it is often difficult for them to achieve perfection. 
  • Tunnel Vision: When perfectionists are worried about failing at something, everything else may become insignificant.
  • Focus on Outcomes: Perfectionists are focused on results, they may disregard every aspect of the journey if they fail to reach their goals. 
  • Excessive Criticism: Perfectionists tend to be highly critical of themselves and others due to their unreasonably high standards.
  • Inability to Deal With Criticism: Perfectionists may struggle when criticised and become defensive instead of seeing it as an opportunity to improve. 
  • Procrastination and Avoidance: Perfectionists may procrastinate if they don’t feel entirely ready to produce the perfect result they would be satisfied with. Similarly, learning new skills or improving existing ones may be frustrating if they don’t achieve mastery and perfection quickly. Hence, they may give up such pursuits early on and avoid specific tasks due to excessive fear of failure. ​

How Does Being A Perfectionist Affect Well-Being?

Adaptive perfectionism can help people feel successful and fulfilled. However, maladaptive perfectionism may do more harm than good. 


Because excessive perfectionism involves holding yourself and others to unreasonably high standards. You develop an ideal world or scenario in your head and the ideal becomes your desire. 

Idealism and perfectionism are unhealthy traits of the Sage archetype, an energy that emerges when you are judged and criticised from a young age.

You, therefore, develop a view of the world that aims to be faultless. Your fixed beliefs determine how you want things to be because this is how you believe things should be.

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Moreover, your constant drive for excellence can lead to chronic stress and anxiety. Unfortunately, chronic stress is associated with adverse health outcomes, including high blood pressure, increased resting heart rate, digestive problems, appetite changes, and a weakened immune system (McEven, 1998).

It can also cause other problems such as irritability, fatigue, insomnia, emotional outbursts, and loss of libido (McEven, 1998). In addition to these effects, excessive perfection may also cause people to feel unsatisfied with how their lives have turned out. These perfectionists may even feel depressed after repeatedly failing to meet their own expectations.

Overcoming Perfectionism

Adaptive perfectionism can indeed make us high achievers. Unfortunately, maladaptive perfectionism can take over our lives and make us anxious and miserable. Luckily, it is something we can overcome. Here are some suggestions that may help you. 

  • Setting attainable standards. Aiming high is great as long as your goals are achievable. You might want to question whether your standards and goals are attainable. If your standards are too high, it may be impossible to reach them.
  • Be flexible. Rigid thinking can ruin a moment, for you and the people you are with. Learning to be more flexible allows you to adapt to whatever life throws at you and adjust your goals and expectations accordingly.
  • Reframe the way you perceive mistakes. Mistakes and mishaps can happen no matter how careful and well-prepared you are or how hard you work. Thus, it may help to reframe them as learning or growth opportunities.
  • Get help. Sometimes we just can’t change our behaviours alone and need help. For instance, you might benefit from understanding which archetypal energies are prompting your perfectionism. The archetypes tool can also help you regulate any negative or destructive thoughts and emotions caused by maladaptive perfectionism.

In Sum

Let’s face it; we can’t always be perfect. Adaptive perfectionism can give us the push to achieve the best we can.

Yet, when we set unattainable goals and overly high standards that we can’t achieve, we might become trapped in a vicious cycle of maladaptive perfectionism and start to feel anxious and lose our self-confidence. Luckily, there are ways to overcome perfectionism.

Thus, it is possible to transform excessive tendencies towards perfectionism and allow yourself to enjoy all aspects of your life and feel a sense of satisfaction even when your success is not a 10/10 performance. Success is a success, regardless of how you achieve it, imperfections and all.​

The Master Mind Content Essential Self-Development Program will help you to identify the reasons why you are a perfectionist and adopt new attitudes that enable you to overcome debilitating feelings.

We have developed a self-development program that shows you how to recognise archetypal energies and adjust your thoughts, actions and emotions accordingly. With these tools, you will be able to release repressed consciousness, develop your personality and upgrade your subconscious programs with energies that deliver a better quality experience of life. 

Sign up for our Essential Self-Development Program today, release repressed consciousness and enrich your quality of life.


  • ​​Flett, G. L., & Hewitt, P. L. (2002). Perfectionism and maladjustment: An overview of theoretical, definitional, and treatment issues. In G. L. Flett & P. L. Hewitt (Eds.), Perfectionism: Theory, research, and treatment (pp. 5–31). American Psychological Association. 
  • Gade, J. C., Schermelleh-Engel, K., & Klein, A. G. (2017). Disentangling the common variance of perfectionistic strivings and perfectionistic concerns: A bifactor model of perfectionism. Frontiers in psychology, 8, 160.
  • Slade P. D., Owens R. G. (1998). A dual process model of perfectionism based on reinforcement theory. Behav. Modif. 22 372–390. 
  • Smith, M. M., Vidovic, V., Sherry, S. B., Stewart, S. H., & Saklofske, D. H. (2018). Are perfectionism dimensions risk factors for anxiety symptoms? A meta-analysis of 11 longitudinal studies. Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, 31(1), 4-20.
  • Stoeber, J., & Otto, K. (2006). Positive conceptions of perfectionism: Approaches, evidence, challenges. Personality and social psychology review, 10(4), 295-319.
Richard Oldale
Master Mind Content is a leading authority in decoding ancient symbolism . Our research unveils the secrets to understanding and taking control of the the subconscious mind, channeling energy to self-heal and effectively using universal laws to fulfil your potential.

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