Dealing with perfectionism

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Disclaimer: Reach out to a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis, or for professional help. This is intended to be educational information, and should not be taken as medical advice.

Most people strive to do or be their best, however, it’s easy to fall victim to perfectionism, the need to achieve perfection. It’s good to aim high, but there needs to be boundaries in place to avoid burnout or frustration with unrealistic ideals.

There are different reasons an individual can start showing perfectionistic tendencies, different forms to overcome them, and different ways that can affect the individual. As university students, there is an added pressure of doing well in school and juggling more responsibilities than before. This time can serve as an opportunity to learn to set boundaries and find areas where one can excel at. However, having a mindset of being perfect all the time can be detrimental as it can cause stress, anxiety, and sometimes depression.

Brené Brown, a writer and social work researcher, further explains this point and adds that there are more than just boundaries that differentiate perfectionism and trying your best, she says, “perfection is not about healthy achievement and growth.”

This quote highlights some of the downfalls that can come with perfectionism, such as someone not trying an activity or task unless they certainly won’t fail. This can limit a person and lead them to miss out on many opportunities; most of life is just trial and error, to find oneself and one’s strengths we have to fail every now and then.

Perfectionism can also alter one’s perspective. They can get so fixated on the end goal of a task that the process of getting there is neglected or unappreciated. This is not ideal because there is a lot to learn from the process of doing a task. Focusing only on the end product also adds pressure which leads to severely critiquing one’s work without objectivity. This means only seeing flaws in one’s work rather than the good things about it.

It doesn’t help that we are in an era of mass social media connectivity that can lead to self-critiques and harsh comparisons. While different for everyone, perfectionism seems to stem from fear of judgment and feelings of insecurity, which can lead someone to over-perform and attempt to be “perfect.” It could also be external pressure from family members to, again, be “perfect” all the time or at least their definition of it. There are countless different reasons and it’s different for everyone, however, it can be overcome with help from trained professionals.

When someone thinks of perfectionism, most of the time symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder pop into mind, but it can actually look a lot different for everyone and on different levels. As noted, perfectionism sets unrealistic standards for oneself and that means subconsciously doing the same for other people; this can affect both relationships and friendships as some people aren’t able to properly measure standards.All information was gathered from For professional help please visit Brock University’s Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre (SWAC).

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