Perfectionism – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
I’ve been a perfectionist for most of my life. My earliest memories include diligently ensuring that my box of pencil crayons was always arranged by height, colour, and shades of colour from lightest to darkest. Whatever I attempted, I had to get it just right to the point of tears and tantrums of frustration on many an occasion.
As I grew older and this temperament solidified, I chalked up my perfectionism to that overused psychological classification of having a “Type A personality”.
I started believing that this is who I am! Until one day, that perfectionist personality turned on me and brought me to my knees.
There are Two Types of Perfectionism
The Good – Adaptive or striving perfectionism is the healthy pursuit of excellence, that propels you forward to achieving your goals. This type is success oriented, focused on positive reinforcement, self-motivation, and feelings of enjoyment and fulfilment.
The Bad/Ugly – Maladaptive or evaluative perfectionism is the unhealthy determination to strive for the best for the fear of failing oneself and others. Control and failure are its tenets, and often this type leads to problematic behaviours.
What if I said, “Perfectionism doesn’t exist”?!
The first time I heard the word FEAR associated with perfectionism, was on an episode of The Mindset Mentor podcast, and it burst my perfectionist bubble.
Rob Dial’s message loud and clear was this:
- Perfectionism doesn’t exist.
- What we are actually experiencing is a battle with our fears.
Taken aback, I stopped to reflect and had my “Aha” moment. I realised that all along I had been embodying the unhealthy form of perfectionism – driven by an all-consuming fear of failure.
Traits of “The Bad and Ugly” side of perfectionism
- setting impossibly high standards and goals for oneself
- self-doubt and indecision
- overly self-critical
- fear of not living up to expectations of oneself and others
- fear of disappointment
- constantly seeking reassurance and validation from others
You may identify with some or all of these traits and to be honest, I’m not surprised. A 2017 study by Curran and Hill, of over 40,000 college students in the UK, US and Canada, concluded that perfectionism has been steadily on the rise for the past 30 years among young adults regardless of gender or culture.
Do you also have the traits of unhealthy perfectionism?
Unchecked, these tendencies can lead to a multitude of self-destructive behaviours and psychological disorders.
In my case, 30 years of out-of-control fears disguised as perfectionism pushed me down the slippery slope of chronic headaches, insomnia, anxiety, and depression.
I now realise that the fears associated with my perfectionism were just that – fears, and life gave me a huge dose of my biggest fear – failure. However, this failure helped me grow, opening my eyes to introspection and learning, propelling me forward to change and succeed.
Am I still a perfectionist? Absolutely, but one with a positive approach towards pursuing excellence, full of compassion, self-love, and a pinch of humour.
Ready to take on your perfectionism and awaken to a healthier you? Join me in my future blog posts where I share my experience of healing and growth.
Bohdanna Diduch – The Awakened Perfectionist
Author: Bohdanna Diduch | Editor: Taahira Kisna | Publisher: Kosha Life
So well written. Yes, fear. Thanks.
Thank you for sharing your personal experiences. I was relieved to read it because I also have some of these traits.
Looking forward to reading another voices from you!
Thank you for writing on this unique topic, this has really opened my mind towards perfectionism.
Wow. Yes wow. That is the right word. Makes me think and it hurts. Thank you for sharing.
This is incredibly raw and powerful and beautiful!! I’m so proud of you my friend for opening yourself up! You’ve always been my beacon of light and an incredible voice of reason! Congrats and looking forward to following you on this journey!!
Wow! Insightful, thanks for sharing this with us!!