Definition of Perfectionism

Perfectionism - The Dangerous Trap

If you are looking for a definition of perfectionism, you've come to the right place. On this page you will find a definition of perfectionism, information about causes of perfectionism, and how to overcome perfectionism.

Perfectionism is not an illness that needs to be cured, rather it is a set of beliefs, about yourself and about your relationships with others, that need to be transformed and healed.

Perfectionism is a wound.

The most simple definition is that:

Perfectionism is the need to do everything perfectly.

What about athletes, artists, gifted people? Many people strive for excellence, they set high standards for themselves. Are they all perfectionists?

No, there is a difference between striving for excellence and perfectionism. This difference is crucial in understanding the definition of perfectionism.

Perfectionism is more than a tendency to have higher standards for oneself. Perfectionism is connected with harsh self-criticism and a need to be perfect. Perfectionists are compulsive in their striving towards perfection and self-improvement.

People who are striving for excellence take great pleasure in their hard work and efforts, they set high standards because of their desire to master something. They accept their mistakes and learn from them. They do not become self-critical.

Perfectionists are driven by constant belittleling and self-criticism.

No matter how hard they work, perfectionists are not able to feel satisfaction. The self-critical voice - the inner critic - in their head always says that they should have done better. Nothing is ever good enough for the perfectionist.

A desire to achieve excellence means doing one's best, accepting mistakes and learning from them without feeling unworthy or diminishing self-esteem.

For the perfectionist, the need to be perfect means a life of constant state of anxiety, of failure, disapproval, and feelings of separation.

Causes of Perfectionism

Some people ask what are the causes of perfectionism? Perfectionism is not an illness and therefore there are no causes for it. Perfectionism is a wound that, according to most experts, originates from childhood and growing up in an overly critical environment.

Reasons for Perfectionism

Perfectionism is a self protective strategy. What does it protect you from? Fear. It protects you from criticism, from failure, or disapproval.

Letting go of Perfectionism

Being a perfectionist is tough. This constant striving for perfection is a burden for most perfectionists. But, there is hope. Healing and transforming perfectionism is a wonderful journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance.

One of the most effective ways that helps me in letting go of perfectionism is confronting my fears. One way of doing this is when you want to give in to your perfectionist compulsion - Stop. Do not give in. Let the fear flood you. Just be with the fear and do nothing. It will gradually pass and so will your need for the compulsion.

Perfectionism may be causing you stress and you may want to find ways to relieve it. Continue from definition of perfectionism to Fun Ways to Relieve Stress.

Related Articles:

Importance of Self Esteem
Self Esteem and Identity
Definition of Self Esteem
Self Esteem Theory
Quotes about Self Esteem


Return from Definition of Perfectionism to Stress Relief Tools


Words of Wisdom

The time to relax is when you don't have time for it.
~Sydney J. Harris

Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.
~Chinese Proverb

There cannot be a stressful crisis next week. My schedule is already full.
~Henry Kissinger

Humor, a great stress reliever!
Laugh, be happy and have less stress!
~Catherine Pulsifer




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