Perfectionism - a self-harm habit

Perfectionisms is one of the most underrated enemies of happiness.

It is not just a weakness, like many of us like to claim during job interviews. Perfectionism is a self-destructive and costly behaviour.

You can consider yourself a perfectionist if any of these apply to you:
  1. Setting extremely ambitious, inflexible standards for your performance
  2. Intensely fearing failure, mistakes or criticism
  3. Persistent, self-demoralising self-criticism and never feeling good enough because you can never meet your criteria for success
  4. Avoiding certain situations, places or people so you can avoid feelings of failure
  5. Bigger problems appearing in your life because of this avoidance (isolation, depression, burnout)

In perfectionism, you are both The Victim and your own Aggressor. You decided to set those super high standards and made up the quality-related rules you “must” follow.

Perfectionism is an unattainable goal and and while the are no quick fixes, you can improve some things if you understand the key reason for perfectionism - the fear of failure based on an underlying belief of being not "good enough" unless your are perfect.

Perfectionism is often used as our strategy to avoid failure, it is based on a fear of failure. While it might be tempting to want to avoid failure, think about that: over the years of avoiding failure, have you ended up feeling less fearful and happier?

Fear is an involuntary biological response. It is a normal human emotion. So it is not the problem that needs to be solved and perfectionism is not the way to avoid failure. The strategy is not working because it triggers more serious problems in your life - burnouts, loneliness, low self-esteem, depressions.

The strategies that are working:
  • Be ok with failure
  • Lower your standards
  • Relax your self-invented and self-imposed rules
  • Develop a non-judgemental stance towards yourself and others
  • Settle for "good enough"

Try it for a week. The effort will be worth it. Your prize will be Living free from the fear of failure and the need for approval of others.