Perfectionism is a problem that plagues many people, especially in this day and age. We put pressure on ourselves, our employees, our colleagues, our loved ones, and our children to be successful and perfect. This causes us to hold ourselves and others to impossible standards. This can cause all sorts of problems as we or our loved ones strive to reach these impossible standards, driving themselves crazy trying to achieve the impossible: perfection.
Through this article, we’ll explain the four ways in which perfectionism is harmful to you, rather than conducive.
1) Perfectionism can cause strain on your mental health
Holding yourself or others to standards that are impossible to achieve can, reasonably, cause a negative effect on your mental health. Perfectionism can cause depression, anxiety, agoraphobia, eating disorders, PTSD, OCD, the list just goes on and on.
Sarah Egan, senior research fellow specializing in perfectionism, eating disorders, and anxiety at Curtin University in Perth weighed in: “It’s something that cuts across everything, in terms of psychological problems. There aren’t that many other things that do that. There are studies that suggest that the higher the perfectionism is, the more psychological disorders you’re going to suffer.”
As a culture, United States citizens have a tendency to glorify perfectionism, claiming it’s a positive trait. However, as you can see, perfectionism can have a deeply negative effect on your overall mental health. It can result in you being in a permanent state of anxiety and self-deprecation.
2) Perfectionism can negatively affect your relationships
If you demand perfectionism in yourself and everything you do, you likely hold your friends and loved ones to the same impossible standards. This can not only cause a strain in your relationships, but could potentially ruin them entirely. If you demand the impossible from your friends, they likely won’t want to be around you anymore. You could make yourself an unnecessary source of stress and anxiety in their lives.
3) Perfectionism can keep you from growing
The common thought with the trait of perfectionism is that it always forces you to strive for better and thus it must be conducive for personal growth. This, however, is not true. While perfectionism does always force you to strive for better, it can actually hinder you from personal growth. Rather than moving on and learning from their mistakes, accepting what fault they need to, perfectionists stay focused on the error, trying to undo it or perfect it. This has a tendency to cause people to be hung up in the past, hindering their growth.
4) Perfectionism can cause you to be more sensitive and susceptible to stress
Perfectionists tend to have trouble rolling with the punches. They have a tendency to feel every little bump of stress and spiral into a panic easier. When things don’t go exactly according to plan, perfectionists have trouble adjusting which can affect many areas of their lives from their career to their relationships.
Perfectionism seems to be a trait that’s valued very highly in American society, but at what cost? Many find this trait admirable, seeing it as a sign of resilience and commitment. On the contrary, as we’ve demonstrated through this article, perfectionism can cause several negative effects on various areas of your life. From relationships to careers to personal growth, demanding the impossible of yourself can only hold you back.
While an appreciation for high quality work should be valued, demand for perfectionism can cause you to struggle with mental health issues, lose friendships or relationships, have higher levels of stress, and even hinder your personal growth.
If you’re concerned you might be too much of a perfectionist, you might want to meet with a counselor, therapist, or life coach to help you get off on the right path to change that and live a happier life.