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What is Perfectionism?

What is Perfectionism?

In my opinion, perfectionism isn’t helpful or healthy for most people. However, sometimes people argue that perfectionism is striving for excellence. Striving for excellence is fantastic,

6 thoughts on “What is Perfectionism?

  • January 25, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    The list is great! Overthinking and being self critical so important to address. i really enjoyed this!

  • June 29, 2017 at 11:01 pm

    I really enjoyed your comments on Perfectionism, and I must confess that most of the items on the list do apply to me. I am 72 years old, happily married, with 2 adult children, and had a very successful career, working 37 years for one company. The items that I relate to the most are self criticism, and fear of trying new things. I have often been asked to serve on different boards, but almost always declined because I am afraid I am not good enough, or will fall short. And I have always been fearful of criticism and negative comments from either family members or others….even as a young boy, I desperately wanted to please my parents. I also keep things organized and like symmetry. I am always straightening pictures, aligning silverware in the drawers, carefully aligning place settings at the table, stacking magazines neatly and perpendicular to countertop edges. I also am particular to how the dishwasher is loaded, and sometimes empty it and reload to my standards. I have always taken very good care of things I owned, from a very young age. I was fearful of flying a model airplane as a young boy, as I was afraid I would damage it, so it remained new in the box. I also like to keep our kitchen counters clean and spotless, and will go over them with a towel to erase any smudges. I also like to keep our faucet free of water spots. I keep our cars spotless, and all my tools are well organized. I love doing genealogy and have also always enjoyed collecting things: stamps, coins, model cars, etc. I also like bygone days, when I was a young boy, and love having things from my childhood, and feel terrible if something from long ago is broken or lost. I was very close to my mother and doted on her praise of me, always wanting to please her.
    In spite of all this, I don’t feel too different from others, and seem to lead a somewhat normal, happy life. None of these routines takes much of my time; I do it and quickly move on, without anymore thought. At work, we had a long hallway with lots of framed pictures; every morning, I would walk by and quickly straighten each one, as the cleanup staff always dusted them and moved them a bit. I usually made sure no one was watching. If I didn’t do this, it did not stress me or make me feel uncomfortable, I just felt like doing it at the moment.
    It seems like I fit most of the criteria and have never thought much about it before. I would appreciate your comments!

    • June 29, 2017 at 11:46 pm

      If it’s not causing a problem for you or your family/friends, it’s not a problem! Some people would be distressed by these experiences, but you don’t seem to be.

      From what you wrote, it seems the biggest “problem” you experienced from this perfectionism is that you missed out on some things — the fun of flying your toy airplane, the personal and professional development and opportunities that might have come from trying new things.

      • June 30, 2017 at 7:43 am

        Sharon—-Thanks for the quick reply! I have always had these traits, but just lived with them, and never really checked in what the underlying cause was. Another example is golf; my wife and I both play, but golf is not a game of perfect, but of managing constant imperfection and making the best of it. I am not a very good golfer, so managing the constant “failure” in golf can be difficult, and I do beat myself up over it frequently, but I still enjoy playing.
        Are most perfectionists born with this trait, or is it the result of childhood & experiences? And you are right…..all of these things I quietly do don’t really interfere with living a happy and otherwise normal life, and I doubt my wife even notices many of the quirks, as I never talk about them or let them bother me… is a quiet obsession. But you are right….I can never be a leader of most things; I am afraid to fail, so I do avoid the spotlight, and usually have to make excuses for not getting involved. I have even declined playing in golf tournaments, as the fear of failure in a more public venue is just too great.
        At least now I know why I do these things and it all makes perfect sense why I do them!

  • May 11, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    Sadly, totally identified with what you rely.

    It is just the way I think and act, sometimes very hurtful to myself and others..

    just bought your book..


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