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  • Writer's pictureChantelle Jusay

Is Your Perfectionism Helping or Hindering You?

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

Many individuals consider themselves perfectionists. Some carry this trait with pride, while others may experience great stress and anxiousness. Some individuals with perfectionism are considered high achievers, which is seen as an admirable characteristic due to the associated good work ethic and high ambition. Contrastingly, perfectionism can also be anxiety provoking, with individuals hindered by self doubt and fear of failure.

What is Perfectionism

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

Types of Perfectionism

Curran & Hill (2019) defined three types of perfectionism: self-oriented, socially-prescribed, and other-oriented perfectionism.

  • Self-oriented: setting of excessive personal standards and stringently evaluating one's behavior

  • Socially-prescribed: a perception that other people expect one to be perfect and that others are harsh, punitive judges

  • Other-oriented perfectionism: expectations of perfection that one has for others

Is Your Perfectionism Helping or Hindering You?

What is it about perfectionism that causes great distress? Bieling et al. (2004) found that the most destructive aspects of perfectionism are not necessarily setting high or “perfect goals” for yourself and others, but rather obsession over making mistakes, personal doubts, and internalized high expectations are the issue.

Therefore, setting high standards, concentrating on a task, and pouring all your efforts into achieving certain goals seem unlikely to cause a great deal of distress or impairment. However, fixating on possible failure and doubting your own ability appear to result in negative emotional states that may trigger more serious problems.

Seeking Help for Perfectionism

Being bothered by your own perfectionism daily may cause a great deal of emotional turmoil. If you are still unsure whether you should seek help for your perfectionism, below are some common experiences by those who have sought professional help.

· Greatly diminished self-esteem, enjoyment of life, and sense of peace

· Fear of judgement or worries of inadequacy

· Placing great pressure to meet unattainable standard on themselves or others

· Being critical of self or others over things that do not meet their high standards

· Great fear about not being perfect

· Fear of failure can be so terrifying that individuals may procrastinate as they would

rather not engage in something if it cannot be done perfectly

How Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can Help with Your Perfectionism

If you find that you are still struggling, therapy may be a good option. Therapy can give you tools to conquer perfectionism. Therapy may also help you understand the deeper reasons behind the pressure you feel to be perfect. If you are ready to take the next step in decreasing your perfectionism, CBT can help you reframe your thoughts and anxieties.

In CBT, we help you by tackling the following in our sessions (items may vary depending on your treatment goals):

  • Help you identify thinking patterns that influence your perfectionism

  • Provide you with strategies to decrease negative thinking patterns

  • Foster self-compassion

  • Assist you in reducing procrastination and manage your time better

  • Support you in building skills that you may add to your toolbox

Written by Chantelle Jusay, Doctoral Practicum Student

* Chantelle is accepting referrals for youth (16+) & adults at the rate of $75/session.


APA Dictionary of Psychology. (n.d.).

Bieling, P. J., Israeli, A. L., & Antony, M. M. (2004). Is perfectionism good, bad, or both? Examining models of the perfectionism construct. Personality and Individual Differences, 36(6), 1373–1385.

Curran, T., & Hill, A. P. (2019). Perfectionism is increasing over time: A meta-analysis of birth cohort differences from 1989 to 2016. Psychological Bulletin, 145(4), 410–429.


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