Perfectionism: How To Strike Balance As A Perfectionist

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Have you ever found yourself letting go of a brilliant idea just because you thought it wasn’t perfect?

Are you the type of person who goes way too hard on yourself to meet expectations?

Do you desire to achieve that perfect layout goal and even seek validation from family and peers by doing things coherently?

how a perfectionist can manage perfectionism

I’d love to thank Amaka Nweke (Writer and Freelancer) for this amazing article.

Onome Joseph

Most people see perfectionism as a strength; Perfectionists measure self-worth by their level of productivity and accomplishment. They, therefore, engage in a series of relentless and rigorous practices to ensure that there are no flaws. Perfectionism motivates people to reach their goals and strive for excellence.

However, with these impeccable qualities, there have been growing concerns towards the practice.

While some experts have argued that there are healthy perfectionists, in contrast, other experts have refuted the claim with an explanation of how perfectionism is far from being healthy. Why then are there several contrasting conceptions about something with a ‘perfect’ in it? I mean perfectionism should be an excellent personality trait but it seems people are beginning to share their struggles with perfectionism.

What then is perfectionism?

Are there really types of perfectionism?

How can you deal with this attribute?

It will be better to start with what it is all about.

Definition of perfectionism

Perfectionism is simply the act of striving for perfection. In psychology, It is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high-performance standards, accompanied by external self-evaluations and concerns regarding others.

Types of Perfectionism

1. Healthy/Adaptive Perfectionism:

Although some experts are of the opinion that no perfectionism is healthy. We can’t rule out the fact that there are healthy perfectionists. Healthy perfectionists are people who set standards within their reach. They strives for excellence without jeopardizing his or her self-esteem.

Healthy perfectionists:

  • Strive for excellence: People in this range strive for excellence without jeopardizing their worth. Healthy perfectionists are always pace setters and can be inspiring in their quest to be better.
  • Have high self-esteem: Healthy perfectionism means being aware that as humans we have flaws. You are aware that  failure is an event, not a person and as such, you don’t go hard on yourself for failing.
  • Know they can’t do it all: A healthy perfectionist knows they can’t everything alone. That is why they delegate work to people to achieve high productivity.
  • Appreciate themselves (focus on the positive): They do not suck up in failure. They choose to ward off negative feelings and focus on the positive aspect of things.

Beak the habit of self doubt

2.  Neurotic/Maladaptive Perfectionism:

As the popular saying goes; too much of everything is bad. Perfectionism can be damaging when one no longer has control over events. Most perfectionists mask their fears under the pretense of aiming for perfection. They desire that approval, favorable comments, perfect look, or even the perfect body.

Extreme perfectionism is unhealthy and can lead to a lot of damages. Some great works, ideas, and projects have been abandoned just for the fear of criticism. It can be crippling and often leads to disorders such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Self-harm

Causes Of Extreme Perfectionism

There are several causes of perfectionism. With people trying to meet up to expectations, perfectionists find themselves trying to be the ideal ship for everyone. Some causes include:


This is one key factor in perfectionism. Perfectionists find themselves secluded and withdrawn. They are constantly thinking of what people would say.

Will I ever do it correctly?

Can I deliver that PowerPoint presentation?

Several negative answers ruminate in the mind- answers such as ‘No I may make mistakes in my speech’, ‘I still need to touch things a little or let’s wait for the right time.’ All these excuses just to hide that fear of how things would go.

Pressure from family and peers

There are times when being a role model can be choking. You are laden with the responsibility to excel and therefore you are exasperated from being too hard on yourself.

Low self-esteem

Perfectionism can stem up from low self-esteem. People who are hard on themselves based on their physical appearance, people’s opinions, and seek approval to boost themselves. They always feel they are never good enough even after achieving success, they strive for more. Mistakes to them make them worthless.

How To Deal With Neurotic Perfectionism

Perfectionism: How To Strike Balance As A Perfectionist 1

Seek medical assistance

Neurotic perfectionism can be damaging to health. As a perfectionist, you can tell where you belong in the category. Seek medical assistance from a professional health practitioner. 

End all unrealistic goals

One of the signs of an unhealthy perfectionist is the setting of unrealistic high goals. Goals are meant to push you to do better but going extreme in everything is dangerous. Dedicate ample time to reach your goal but never endanger your health or reasoning just for a mistake made. Failure is a part of success.

Focus on the positive aspect

Failure is inevitable. Humans have flaws and the moment we begin to understand that we have imperfections the better. Things might not go the way we envisioned but that doesn’t rule out the fact that we did work hard for it. We could reminisce about the effort and time put into the project.

Build your self-esteem

Do things that make you happy. Relax your mind and stay away from negative vibes. There are so many positive things about us that people wish for. Instead of dwelling on what others think, do that which you fear most. Fear of criticism and failure cripples your potential making you feel incompetent.

How To Strike A Balance As A Perfectionist

As a perfectionist, you can easily tell which group you belong to. Perfectionism can be of great help if you know when to draw the line. It is important to differentiate healthy striving from neurotic struggles. Striking a balance helps you to stay on track. Healthy perfectionism is about being focused, organized, self-disciplined without compromising self-worth. The following tips can help you strike a balance:

  • Avoid unrealistic goals
  • Don’t have an all or nothing mindset
  • Focus on the positive
  • Confront your fears

 What are your thoughts towards perfectionism?