What Is Perfectionist Disorder? How Can It Destroy You?

Perfectionist disorder

What comes to your mind when you hear the term perfectionist? A tidy desk? A beautiful house? Although perfectionist disorder is sometimes associated with amazing places, experiences, and delicious food, perfection is often portrayed as a snobby, but somehow admirable, person.

These people are often not fun to be around, despite the fact that they may look amazing or have all the trappings for a good life like a well-paid career and many accomplishments.

This description might fit you depending on how important perfection is in your life. If you feel this way, and want to get rid of the mental blockage that comes with obsessing about doing everything perfectly, then read on.

This article will explain perfectionism, its causes, and how to manage unrealistic expectations.

What Is Perfectionist Disorder?

People suffering from perfectionist disorder have unrealistic expectations of themselves and others. This is usually due to high standards and an active inner critic. Perfectionist behavior can be applied to all areas of someone’s life, or just one area.

A perfectionist might be obsessed with being perfect and could spend hours practicing their beauty routine or working out.

They could also be obsessed with working hard and putting in overtime. Perfectionists may be able to concentrate on one activity or task to perfect, such as writing, cleaning, or baking.

There are many types of perfectionist self-presentation. Perfectionists can be self-promotional and proud to show off their flawlessness to others. They might dismiss their accomplishments as nothing.

There are also perfectionists who might try to hide or avoid their imperfections. How a person displays perfectionism can affect their relationships and ultimately their self-image.

Some perfectionists can laugh at their mistakes or not take too much responsibility for what they do. Full-time perfectionists, on the other hand, are too busy striving for excellence to be able to recognize their own limitations.

What Causes Perfectionist Disorder?

Perfectionist disorder can be viewed as both a mental disorder and a personality trait. Psychologists agree that perfectionists are often born with high expectations and over-achieving.

Perfectionism, like many other psychological disorders, can be rooted in a person’s family. Perfectionists believe their self-worth depends on what they can do, what they have and how they look.

Perfectionists often grew up in a home that criticized and shamed them. They may also have had parents who held them to very high standards.

If someone was raised by parents who were very critical of their children, perfectionism may have been an inherited trait.

Perfectionists can also have fear of disapproval from others or themselves, and deep-seated worries that can be coupled with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy.

There are many ways that perfectionism can manifest. Psychologists have also identified other types of perfectionists, referred to as the “multidimensional perfectionism” scale.

  • Perfectionism that is self-oriented
  • Perfectionism that is oriented towards others
  • Perfectionism is socially ordered
  • Maladaptive perfectionism

This is what we often think of as self-oriented perfectionism. This is someone who is driven to perfection and strives for perfectionism.

As you can see, this is a belief that everyone should be perfect. These perfectionists criticize others who don’t live up to their high standards.

A socially-prescribed perfectionist is someone who believes other people expect them (such as a parent, partner, teacher, or any other social group) to be perfect.

They adjust their behavior to please those people or entities. Maladaptive perfectionists are those who set unrealistic standards for themselves and then criticize themselves harshly, creating a vicious circle of low self-esteem, unmet expectations, and self-criticism. This is sometimes called “self-critical perfectionionism.”

Is It Always Bad To Be A Perfectionist Personality?

Healthy perfectionism is possible, but only to a certain extent.

Perfectionism can be motivating in small doses to pay more attention to details and complete tasks well. If perfection is too much, it can lead to a negative effect on your mental and physical health.

Perfectionism is linked to major mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide. High blood pressure is also more common in people with perfectionist tendencies, according to studies. Perfectionists are less likely to be able to cope with physical illness than those who don’t have this tendency.

Perfectionist disorder is not good for you. It’s good to be self-motivated and detail-oriented. However, striving for perfection in all areas of your life can prove to be detrimental to both young and old people.

Signs Of Perfectionism OCD

There are many signs that indicate you are a perfectionist, or at least that perfectionistic thinking can be a part of your daily life. These are some common characteristics that perfectionists share.

Thinking In All-Or-Nothing

Perfectionists don’t like to be flexible. Perfectionists are rigid and demanding. They can make any project or activity less enjoyable if they are too focused on results. Perfectionists believe perfection is the only way to succeed.

Hyper-Critical Of Yourself

Your inner voice can reveal a lot about you. Perfectionists are more likely to have negative inner critics that judge their every move. This tendency to judge can be projected onto others.

Perfectionists may hold others to higher standards than they would like or be less accepting of others simply because they already do this reflexively.

They Always Need To Prove Themselves

Perfectionists are driven to be perfect. They feel the need to prove their worth to others and themselves. They try to do everything perfectly and succeed because they believe they are lacking something.

They Are Lonely

Perfectionism can cause loneliness. A perfectionist is someone who stands on top of others, and looks down at them. Perfectionists may feel isolated and lonely from others because their rigidity can cause them to be distant and can strain friendships.

Intimacy with other people or in intimate relationships can make perfectionists feel more self-critical. This can lead to a weaker self-image and may affect everyone from college students to seniors.

Expect Perfection From Others

Perfectionists expect perfection from themselves and others in many situations. They view their unrealistic standards as the only way to go, and not the full range of options. They are easily disappointed when things don’t turn out as planned.

How To Overcome Perfectionist Disorder

Perfectionism control can be difficult and takes dedication. It’s worth it if you find more peace in life, better relationships with others, and a greater sense of self-worth.

These are just a few ways to get started:


A therapist can help with complex emotions and behavior, which will allow you to see perspectives that you might not be able to see on your own.

One option is traditional therapy. Another is cognitive behavioral therapy. This is a better option for perfectionists. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you to change your patterns and help you develop coping strategies.

You don’t even have to visit a therapist in person. With today’s technology, you can consult with therapists via phone or video.

Be Aware Of Your Problem

It is a vital mental skill to be able to listen to your inner critic, especially perfectionists. To understand your inner critic and to understand why this is in your head, listen to it.

Trusted therapists can help you dig deeper into the work and assist with issues such as anorexia, schizophrenia, or other mental disorders.

Next, create a plan to address the voice that is speaking and what you can do to avoid reacting. It is important to understand, accept and release the feelings of your inner critics.

Be Realistic

Perfectionism is about getting rid of negative and unattainable thought patterns. How to be realistic even if your brain tells you otherwise. You need to literally rewire your brain’s neural pathways so you don’t get stuck in unrealistic thoughts.

Be aware when you think something is too extreme. Find a way to reduce that thought, feeling, or idea in a way that is feasible, practical, and grounded in reality.

Enjoy The Process

Perfectionists are more focused on the end result than the journey. You can do a workout, or any other activity that will help you stay present as you work on a project.

Concentrate on your five senses: What are you smelling, tasting, touching, feeling, and hearing? You can begin to enjoy the sensory pleasures that come with being present in the moment. This helps you feel grounded and lets you focus on the process, rather than the end result.

Make Compromises

Even though it may feel easier to think in a all-or-nothing mode, you can find the nuances in your daily life. You can find opportunities to give back, even in the smallest ways, and you will be more comfortable with finding middle ground.

Face Your Fear

You can shake off perfectionist thinking by forcing yourself to do something new, even if it’s not something you are good at. You can sign up for beginners yoga, purchase a canvas, paint and take trapeze lessons.

You can use this opportunity to fail, no matter what you do. You can also learn to be comfortable with failing at something.

Take Small Steps

Perfectionists can also be procrastinators. They are afraid of failing, so it can be difficult for them to even start something. If you feel stuck, do one thing to move you in the right direction towards completing your assignment, project or whatever it is.

Perhaps it’s writing a paragraph. Perhaps it’s preparing the introduction for a presentation. You can divide the task into manageable chunks to make steady and slow progress.

Final Thought

Perfectionism is not performative. Perfectionistic tendencies are not performed. They start in the mind. You can overcome perfectionism by understanding your inner critic and learning to let go of it. You will always have this voice, but you can learn to control how loud it gets and decide whether you want to listen.

It might help to think of perfectionism as an act for altruism. Not only will it help you be mentally the best and healthiest version of yourself, but it will also reduce pressure on those around you.

We can let go of socially-imposed unrealistic standards and allow others to have their own unrealistic expectations. This creates a community that accepts each other and allows us to feel more free to be ourselves.

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