How Wanting Everything To Be Perfect is Raising My Anxiety?

Anxiety Due to Obsessions

We all want to do well in life and want to have many accomplishments. But there are some of us for whom doing well is not enough. We won’t just stop at being okay, we want to be flawless and PERFECT. After all, being called a perfectionist typically does not raise any alarm. In fact, isn’t perfectionism a good thing? The ability to do tasks in such a manner that there is no room for mistakes and when you do make one, it feels like the end of the world. This does not feel right, does it?

Perfectionism is defined by American Psychological Association (APA), is the tendency to demand of others or oneself an extremely high or even flawless level of performance, over what is required by the situation. It is associated with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and other mental health problems.

The Unrest of The Perfectionist

According to Psychologist Thomas S. Greenspon,

“Perfectionistic people typically believe that they can never be good enough, that mistakes are signs of personal flaws, and that the only route to acceptability as a person is to be perfect.”

Perfectionists tend to demonstrate a “fixed” approach, rather than a “growth” approach. People with a growth approach believe in their ability to learn and develop skills to grow over time. As a result, they find it easier to withstand setbacks. Their mistakes and failures aren’t tied to their sense of self-worth. Individuals with a fixed approach, on the other hand, may believe that people are born with natural talents and abilities. These individuals set exceedingly high benchmarks and strive to avoid failure at all costs as they feel that their failures are directly linked to their sense of self-worth. Therefore, any incompetency on their part may lead to a lower sense of self-esteem.

Lower Self Esteem

This unrest can be difficult for others to see or even for the perfectionist to acknowledge, as those who suffer often work meticulously to maintain a unified image of accomplishment and well-being. As a result, perfectionists who are struggling with psychological distress may be less likely to either seek or receive the help they need, causing deeper levels of emotional pain and suffering that can sometimes end in acts of self-destruction. A 2007 study on suicides in Alaska- by the Alaska Injury Prevention Centre, Critical Illness and Trauma Foundation, Inc., and American Association of Suicidology found that 56% of those who took their own lives were described as perfectionists by family and friends.

Common Signs of Perfectionism

  1. Striving to meet high standards and expectations
  2. Needing clear organization and structure
  3. The exaggerated fear of failure
  4. Tendency to be highly critical of others
  5. Being over-ambitious and driven
  6. Higher levels of self-doubt and insecurity
  7. Difficulty in overlooking small mistakes
  8. Sensitivity to criticism
  9. Feeling anger when something goes wrong
  10. Viewing any mistake as failure or incompetence
  11. Intense fear of being rejected or judged because of mistakes
  12. Spending excessive time, effort, or energy to improve or reduce mistakes
  13. Excessive rumination and self-criticism
  14. Rigid black-or-white thinking patterns
  15. Self-worth is equivalent to success

Self Criticism

Types of Perfectionism

A recent study by Thomas Curran and Andrew Hill defined three types of Perfectionism:




Individuals attach irrational importance to being perfect and hold unrealistic expectations of themselves.

Individuals believe their social context is excessively demanding, and that they must display perfection to secure approval.

Individuals impose unrealistic standards on those around them.

Therefore, it is safe to say that being called a perfectionist is not something to look forward to. Perfectionism can produce a flood of anxious thoughts and feelings when an individual’s performance falls below their excessively high standards making them feel worthless and a total failure. Constant nagging in the mind of being inadequate and the turmoil of being without flaws can lead an individual to a severe mental breakdown which can add up to threatening consequences. Perfectionism not only increases anxiety but numerous studies have linked some other mental health conditions to it as well. Some of them are,

  • Depression
  • Eating Disorders
  • Substance Use Disorders
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder

Being PerfectionistPerfectionism can be a major contributor to your stress and can shoot up your energy, possibly increasing your feeling of anxiety and impacting your other symptoms. You need to understand where you draw the line and when to seek help before this trait gets the best of you.

Mental Health Professionals can guide you properly to deal with such obsessions and compulsive behaviors. There is a need of treating such behaviors at the earliest otherwise it will results in more disastrous situation. Schedule a counseling session with professional mental health professionals nearby you.


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