Signs of a perfectionist

7 Signs You’re Too Much of a Perfectionist | Psychology Careers

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We hear it as praise all the time. Perfect! Flawless! Impeccable! But can anything truly be perfect? Is perfection even an ideal we should be reaching for?

While it’s up to philosophers to hash out the nature of perfection, psychologists can tell us this: Too much perfectionism is not good for us. Sure, a drive to better ourselves can help us stay committed to challenging tasks and overcome serious obstacles, but psychologists have linked excessive perfectionism with mental health problems such as depression, eating disorders, anxiety and more. * Perfectionism can even increase your risk of death.

So how do you know if your perfectionism is hurting you more than helping? Well, mental health professionals have identified a number of signs we can use to measure whether our need to be perfect is causing more problems than it’s solving. The most common signs include:

  1. You’re a Perfectionist in All Things

    It’s one thing to want to be perfect in your profession. It’s a whole other thing to want to be perfect in every single task you face. For instance, unless you’re a chef, you shouldn’t be too upset when you overcook a steak or your pasta dish doesn’t come out as beautifully as the pictures in the cookbook. If you find yourself getting terribly frustrated every time you fall short of perfection, no matter the task, your perfectionism is likely harming your quality of life.

  2. You’re an All or Nothing Person

    If you believe that second place is really just the first loser, your perfectionism may be warping your ability to strive for realistic success. True success is not either/or and it’s not a finite resource. You can be successful—and take pride in your success—without being the absolute best or the only one at the top.

  3. You Crave Approval

    Who judges perfection? In the minds of many perfectionists, it’s other people. This tends to make perfectionists desire approval above all else. If you find yourself focusing more on what people say about your efforts than on the efforts themselves, your perfectionism is negatively affecting your priorities.

  4. Feedback Makes You Defensive

    We all tend to get upset if someone says something unkind to us. But there’s a difference between a cruel comment and one intended to help you improve. Perfectionists have a hard time distinguishing between the two and will often lash out at constructive feedback. Your perfectionism is not helping you if you have a hard time sitting through a performance review without getting into an argument.

  5. You’re Highly Critical of Others

    If you feel as if you have to be the best all the time, you may resort to tearing other people down to make yourself feel elevated. While we’re all critical of others from time to time, a level of perfectionism that leads you to be constantly critical can hurt your professional standing and cause you to lose friends.

  6. You’re a Big Procrastinator

    One of the core aspects of harmful perfectionism is a fear of failure. In many people, this fear manifests in avoidance behavior like procrastination. If you don’t do the task, you can’t fail, right? But that kind of thinking can put you endlessly behind on deadlines and add a lot of stress to your life.

  7. You’re Full of Guilt

    If you feel as if you have to be your best no matter what, any mistake, however small, can feel like a significant failure. This can make you feel as if you’re constantly failing, which can, in turn, lead to a persistent sense of guilt. If you often feel as if you’re always letting others and yourself down, your perfectionism is getting in your way of enjoying life.

How Can You Learn More About Perfectionism?

Perfectionism is one of the most fascinating issues in psychology, as it can both benefit and harm us. If you’re interested in learning about perfectionism and other issues of psychology, you should consider earning an MS in Psychology. This advanced degree in psychology can prepare you to work in academia or in a variety of other fields. In fact, there are careers in psychology in every type of industry.

Best of all, to earn your master’s in psychology, you don’t have to attend a campus-based school of psychology. Instead you can enroll in an online university and complete the majority of your master’s program in psychology from home and on a schedule that can allow you to continue working full time. Plus, the convenience and flexibility of an online master’s in psychology program can allow you to complete your psychology degree faster and for less cost than you might expect.

Perfectionism is one of the many ways our minds can help or harm us. You can learn a lot more when you earn a master’s degree in psychology online.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online MS in Psychology degree program. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

*E. Benson, The Many Faces of Perfectionism, Monitor on Psychology, on the internet at
†R. Rettner, The Dark Side of Perfectionism Revealed, LiveScience, on the internet at

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,

Nine Little-Known Signs of Perfectionism

Are you a perfectionist? Most perfectionists don’t identify as perfectionists. But these nine signs might make you come out of the (perfectly organized) perfectionist closet.

“It’s perfect!” While calling something “perfect” is the highest of compliments—a perfectly done steak, the perfect prom dress, a perfect 10 in the ice dancing finals—calling someone a perfectionist is anything but.

Why? It implies a stressed-out control freak who can’t relax. Perfectionists have a reputation for being relentless. Uncompromising. Never satisfied. And often, it turns out, very successful. Rolling Stone called Bruno Mars a “pop perfectionist.” Serena Williams proudly labels herself as a perfectionist. Steve Jobs was a notorious perfectionist.

All of these people—and likely some of the perfectionists you know (maybe even you)—are at the top of their professions, have made themselves rich and famous, and delivered great work along the way. But not without paying a price.

It’s the cost of perfectionism—anger, stress, abrasiveness, being seen as picky, rigid, or over-controlling—that makes most people shun the perfectionist label.

As a result, perfectionists seldom claim to be perfectionists. And further, because the label is a misnomer, most perfectionists don’t even realize they’re perfectionists.

How is it a misnomer? Contrary to the name, most perfectionists aren’t driven by the pursuit of perfection, they’re driven by the avoidance of failure. Being a perfectionist isn’t about being perfect, it’s about never being good enough.

Should you call yourself a perfectionist? Maybe. Some characteristics of perfectionism lead to excellence and success, like doing things well, thoroughly, or efficiently. Indeed, sweating the small stuff is an advantage when it comes to landing that promotion, creating a magazine-worthy holiday dinner, or organizing the garage with the intricacy of a game of Tetris.

So when does being a perfectionist become a hindrance? It can get in your way when you spend so much time polishing a project that it never actually gets done, get sucked so far into the details that you miss the point (or the deadline), or insist that the two sides to every argument are your way and the wrong way.

But there are also lesser-known signs of perfectionism. For starters, here are nine of them. Are you a *perfect* match? (Sorry, couldn’t resist).

1. You always look great.

Your outfit always looks pulled together; no chipped nail polish or two-day stubble for you. Plus, it’s not painful for others to look at you (every mother of a tween boy knows what I mean—“No, you cannot wear athletic shorts and Adidas slides to Uncle Al’s funeral!”)

Now, you might be the type of perfectionist whose focus isn’t about appearance—you might save your perfectionism for other domains. Steve Jobs reportedly wore a black turtleneck and Levi’s every day so he didn’t have to waste neurons on deciding what to wear.

However, carried to an extreme, being perfectionistic about appearance is a big risk factor for eating disorders. Anorexia is often deadly. And bulimia and binge eating can be cracks in a perfectionistic facade—all the pressure you put on yourself has to escape at some point, like through a binge on decidedly imperfect foods.

2. You don’t share your ideas until they’re “ready.”

Unlike the vintage Saturday Night Live cast, you prefer to hold onto your projects until they’re ready for prime time. The prospect of presenting something half-baked is as terrifying as going out half-naked. In brainstorming sessions at work, you marvel when colleagues spitball without being embarrassed. You wait to show your work until it’s too late to edit. You wish you could play it faster and looser, but it just doesn’t feel safe.

3. You live by lists.

Lists and calendars and schedules, oh my! You are organized and efficient. You schedule your day down to 15-minute increments. The upside? You wring the most out of your time. You’re productive and get things done effectively and well—nothing wrong with that at all.

But sometimes productivity isn’t the goal. With a laser focus on checking off to-dos, it can be hard to be flexible, to find time to spontaneously chit-chat, or to have those unscheduled run-ins and conversations that are not only fun, but also deepen your relationships and spark creativity.

4. It’s tough to relax.

Unplug, kick back, or take a breather? For many perfectionists, unstructured time just feels wrong—there’s something you could be getting done. You resent the hours it takes to watch an entire movie, read a whole book, or linger over a meal because you feel restless. You may leave your vacation time on the table because breaks interrupt your momentum. And holidays are the best time to get stuff done because no one else is around to bother you.

Likewise, you’ve tried, but you just can’t meditate. You’re not sure if you’re doing it right, and you hate to be bad at things, so that makes it stressful. Plus, just sitting there trying to be in the now makes you antsy—it feels like you’re wasting time.

5. You can only concentrate if everything is in its rightful place.

A neatly made bed. A crumb-free countertop. A clutter-free desk. It’s true that for some, outer order can equal inner calm. There’s nothing wrong with being neat and organized, but it can also be a hidden sign of perfectionism. Preferring outer order is fine if it’s not getting in your way, but check for these three things:

  • Does clearing clutter, cleaning, and organizing take so much time and energy it leaves you unable to do what you’re supposed to be doing?
  • Are you unable to transition away from cleaning, making you chronically late or stressed?
  • Or, is following your partner or kids around with a vacuum (and related criticism) straining your relationship?

6. You procrastinate.

On the surface, procrastination looks more like laziness or distractibility, not perfectionism. But look closer. If you’re worried there’s no way you can meet your own standards or that you’ll make the wrong decision and later regret it, it’s understandable that you put off writing that term paper, moving forward on home renovations, or plowing through your to-do list.

7. You do one of two things when it comes to decision-making.

These two decision-making methods live at opposite ends of the spectrum, but both are rooted in perfectionism.

The first: you take a long time to make a decision because you worry it won’t be right. You stand in your closet trying to decide what to wear while your whole family is waiting in the car, or you’re still staring at the menu while the waiter glances at his watch. You hate Costco and IKEA because too many choices make you feel paralyzed.

The second: you are very decisive; you are confident you know the “right” way. You automatically hire the “best” contractor, go to the “best” hairstylist, and only get macarons at the “best” bakery. If someone offers to bring a dish to supper, you send them a recipe or tell them exactly where to pick up the ingredients.

8. You can’t delegate.

Whatever “it” is, it’s better if you just do it yourself. If someone else does it (agh!), things never turn out the way you want and you’ll have to redo it anyway. When you do it yourself, things get done to your high standards, but as a result, everything takes longer and you’re exhausted from taking on so much.

9. You hate waste.

Abandoning a project makes you feel queasy—you’d rather fight through and make it right rather than have wasted the time. A full fridge makes you anxious because so much food has the potential to go to waste. You hate to leave miles or points on the table, even if it means ending up with a rewards subscription for socks (which is a thing, apparently). It’s difficult for you to walk away from sunk costs. On a more serious note, you may even stay in a bad relationship because of all the time and energy you’ve already invested in.

So what should you do if you said, “That’s me!” to any of the nine signs? What’s so bad about being organized, hardworking, and looking fabulous all the time?

Well, since you asked, here’s the line: Perfectionism works against you when your high standards and hard work are driven by fear. Work hard and aim high when you love what you’re doing and want it to be the best it can be. However, it’s another thing to become paralyzed or consumed due to fear of failure, making mistakes, or being judged or rejected.

To sum it up, pursue excellence for the sake of excellence, not to overcompensate, perform, or impress. Remember: Imperfect doesn’t mean inadequate. Indeed, some aspects of your perfectionism are likely propelling you forward. Keep those. But you can work on letting go wherever perfectionism is holding you back. (And maybe even resist making them into a list).

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Perfectionism: signs and types, how to recognize and fight

An ideal is something ephemeral and unattainable in the concept of many people. However, you can meet those who sincerely believe that they can do the impossible. Such people are called perfectionists and are often held up as an example to others. Of course, in their work they also strive for the ideal, so they perform their duties efficiently and clearly. However, there is another side of the coin.

Perfectionism instills in people the confidence that it is possible to achieve the ideal. This trait makes you constantly redo something for the sake of the appreciation of others. Perfectionists don't have shades of grey, only "great" or "terrible". For a high result, you need to constantly improve and move forward.

In some cases, this desire goes too far. Perfectionism causes people to overestimate themselves, become more critical and constantly feel dissatisfied. It interferes with work, life, health: striving for excellence can cause depression and insomnia.

How Perfectionism Manifests: Signs

Perfectionism comes from childhood, when a child receives encouragement for high marks in school. Over time, everything gets worse and a person thinks that he is not worthy of love if he has not reached perfection.

A perfectionist can be distinguished by several features:

  • constant dissatisfaction with the work performed;
  • fear of starting a new business: fear of not being able to achieve the ideal;
  • fear of discussing one's own failures;
  • the value of someone else's opinion is higher than one's own;
  • large time spent on everyday affairs;
  • surrounding people should correspond to the ideal of a perfectionist;
  • any error is perceived as the end of the world;
  • lack of praise from others is perceived as a mistake;
  • A perfectionist takes on too many duties and responsibilities.

Striving for perfection hinders a person in many areas of life. Perfectionism in relationships can simply destroy them. The constant desire to become an ideal and change a partner for the better brings discord into the relationship between two people. Perfectionists find it difficult to build romantic relationships and even ordinary communication. In the intimate sphere, there is a fear of intimacy, based on the fear of inconsistency with one's own expectations and the hopes of a partner. “Perfectionism is attributed to girls and associated with the “A student complex”. The school leaves its mark on the formation of such a skill and, of course, is conditioned by the desire to conform to the social framework in which everything screams - "you must be a good girl" or even worse - "good girls don't act like that." But you need to understand that if a personality is formed, and not created by imposed canons, then life becomes much easier and more fun," says Gestalt therapist Alexandra Molodets.

Perfectionism in work helps to achieve high results and climb the career ladder. However, at the same time, a painful desire to be the best makes you redo each task several times. Often, perfectionists have a fear that they will not be able to do the job perfectly, which means that it is not worth taking on it. A high level of anxiety deprives a person of the opportunity to demonstrate their professional skills. As a result, a perfectionist may be left without a job.

Types of perfectionism

Scientists distinguish different types of perfectionism. The search for perfection can take place within a person or in his external relationships. Some perfectionists are very demanding of themselves. They do not forgive themselves for mistakes, constantly criticize their own actions and often slide into a deep depression against this background.

Others put forward increased demands on the people around them. Perfectionists want their friends and family to live up to made-up ideals and don't accept people for who they are. Still others are sure that their environment expects high results from them. Perfectionists spend all their energy on meeting their own invented requirements.

In addition, there are two types of striving for the ideal:

Neurotic perfectionism

This is a destructive phenomenon that can lead to serious negative consequences. Neurotic perfectionism manifests itself in a painful desire to achieve a far-fetched ideal image. A person criticizes himself excessively and unreasonably, is afraid to start a new business because of fears of failing it. Often there is an obsession with details and increased scrupulousness. This approach leads to wasting valuable time and focusing on completely unimportant things.

People with destructive perfectionism do not know how to enjoy life. They do not enjoy work, relationships are seen in a bad way, and their own person seems not good enough. The neurotic type often turns into serious diseases of the nervous system.

Healthy perfectionism

With normal perfectionism, people are able to give a sound assessment of themselves and their own results. They understand that the ideal cannot be achieved. Such perfectionists are highly motivated, active and efficient. They enjoy their work and strive for high results for the sake of positive feedback. Such people are able to optimize their activities and do not require themselves or others to do the impossible.

Pros and Cons of Perfectionism

In the case of neurotic perfectionism, there is no question of any positive qualities. Increased anxiety, exactingness and striving for the ideal need to be discussed and worked out with a psychologist. As for healthy perfectionism, there are indeed positives:

  • success in various fields of activity;
  • attention to detail;
  • high quality work;
  • thorough approach;
  • no errors.

These qualities are very important in many fields of activity. Perfectionists make great surgeons, engineers, and jewelers. But everything has a downside.

Cons of perfectionism:

  • problems with completion dates;
  • self-criticism;
  • constant stress;
  • irrational distribution of time and effort.

A perfectionist spends a lot of effort on solving small problems, forgetting about the ultimate goal. Because of this, the work is not completed on time. A person begins to worry about a possible failure, which develops into self-criticism and often ends in a depressive state.

How to deal with perfectionism

If you are afraid to take on a new business, do not like anything you have created on your own, and it takes about an hour to select a font for a letter to a colleague, then it makes sense to pay attention to psychology. “In my practice, there are now much fewer clients with neurotic manifestations in the form of striving for an ideal in work. I attribute this to the fact that during the two years of the pandemic, people have slowed down in the race for success. Previously, courses on "successful success" were advertised at every step, we increasingly looked around with the fear that suddenly our colleague was already at the top of Olympus, and we were only at the bottom. Now the priority of clients is to initially understand and make friends with themselves, ”says Alexandra Molodets, a Gestalt therapist.

Special practices will help reduce anxiety and stop unreasonably criticizing yourself. Here are a few simple tips for dealing with perfectionism:

  • acknowledging a problem is the first step towards solving it. If a person recognizes himself as a perfectionist, then he will be able to overcome his negative qualities and profitably play on positive ones;
  • timeframes will help reduce wasted resources and focus on the end goal;
  • a formulated result and a clearly defined goal will help not to be distracted by minor details;
  • It is useful for perfectionists to make lists of tasks that will speed up the work process;
  • Delegation of duties is an important and very difficult part of the fight against perfectionism. You need to learn to break the work into small components and entrust some part to other people;
  • any failure is, first of all, a valuable experience. It is necessary to shift the focus from the error to the importance of the acquired knowledge;
  • rest for a perfectionist can be overwhelming work. It is important to learn to relax and enjoy even an unforeseen change in plans.

If you cannot overcome the negative aspects of perfectionism on your own, it is better to contact a specialist. An experienced psychologist will help restore peace of mind and prevent serious diseases of the nervous system.

11 signs that you are a perfectionist - Organized life

Do you consider yourself a perfectionist? Do you often strive to achieve the ideal result in work, in cleaning, in relationships, in life? Do you feel the need to endlessly improve and polish any task you complete, even at the expense of your time, health, and well-being?

A perfectionist is a person who refuses to accept any standard other than the ideal

In psychology, perfectionism, as a personality trait, is characterized as “the desire for perfection and setting high standards, accompanied by overly critical self-esteem and concern about the evaluation of others” .

Anything less than perfect is unacceptable to a perfectionist.

Are you really a perfectionist?

Here are 11 signs by which you can understand to what extent you are a perfectionist.

Intolerance for errors

Whenever you notice an error or inaccuracy, you immediately rush to correct it. Re-ironing the linen, the folds of which were not even enough, boil the porridge again, which turned out to be a little watery, re-start the family budget file if you forgot to enter the expenses for one day.

Do you have any special, specific way to do something

Any other approach is unacceptable to you. First wash the floors, then vacuum, and in no case vice versa. In a supermarket, start with a grocery row, but not with a vegetable one. Post reports on Google Drive, not on Yandex Drive. As a result, you have to do everything yourself, because either you cannot find the right people to help, or people themselves refuse to work with you.

All or nothing approach

Either do it perfectly or don't do it at all. Everything in between has no right to life.

The main thing is the end result

You don't care about the process and intermediate successes. All you care about is the end result. If it is not reached (or until it is reached), you feel irritated and dissatisfied.

You are too hard on yourself

Whenever something goes wrong, you violently attack yourself. It doesn't matter if it was your fault or because of that guy - one little misunderstanding and you are your own enemy for a long, long time.

You get depressed if you don't achieve what you want

You endlessly chew on results that don't look like what you intended (even if objectively they aren't that bad). Your main feeling at the same time is that you could not keep everything under control and are to blame for the fact that you “failed”.

Excessively high standards

Whatever you are going to do, you set yourself the highest standard. “To love is like a queen, to lose is like a million. ” The constant striving to meet rigid, unreasonably high standards keeps you in perpetual tension. In the end, you can overstrain, trying to jump over your head. Or simply give up what you want out of fear of not succeeding.

There can never be too much success

Whatever you do, there is always something to strive for further. If you get an A, you immediately start aiming for 2A. When you get 2A, you think that will not be enough, and you need 5A. What you have achieved does not please you, you feel miserable, because something bigger and better always looms ahead.

You procrastinate, postponing to the “right” moment

You are constantly waiting for the perfect conditions to get started. You only want to start when you are "ready" to ensure the best quality of work. “I will start doing my hobby when the kids are older. I will start creating savings when the salary rises. I'll start tidying up when I get the perfect rack." That's just for some reason, this "readiness" never comes.

See also: How do you justify your procrastination? >>

You see mistakes where no one else sees them

While this may simply mean that you are detail-oriented, perfectionists often spot mistakes a mile away. Sometimes they are real. And if not, you can always come up with them!

You spend a lot of time chasing perfection

Perfection is your ultimate goal. It is common for you to sacrifice sleep, food, time, family, entertainment, health, just to bring the work to the highest level.

Do you have any of the above symptoms?

If yes, then your dreams and goals are at stake! Your perfectionist behavior patterns will keep you from realizing them.

Explore your perfectionism in detail and get rid of it in those areas of life where it creates problems, the e-book Trapped in Perfectionism will help you >>


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