Perfectionism 101: 3 Perfectionism Myths

Perfectionism 101: 3 Perfectionism Myths

It’s not something you’re trying to do.

Most of the time you’re not even aware of it.

In fact, like the many others who struggle with perfectionism, it feels like a way of life.

You’re a perfectionist. That’s just the way it is. (Isn’t it?)

Today we’re kicking off a new series on perfectionism by sharing 3 perfectionism myths… and the truth behind them:

Myth #1: Perfectionism is a strength.

From the outside, it can look like perfectionists have it all together. That nothing is too hard from them to handle. This can lead to the perception that individuals who continually strive for perfection are somehow stronger, more resilient, and more confident than “regular” people.

FACT: “Perfection”, as we tend to think about it, doesn’t actually exist; it’s an illusion. So, for individuals who hold themselves to a continual standard of perfection, disappointment, shame, and the threat of failure are everyday experiences. This often leads to chronic feelings of inadequacy, “impostor syndrome”, and other painful struggles that feel anything but strong, resilient, and confident.

Myth #2: Perfectionists simply have high standards.

A common misconception of people who struggle with perfectionism is that they just tend to set their sights a bit higher then most. For example, it can be hard to distinguish a perfectionist from someone who’s ambitious and driven to achieve or create. This leads many people to believe that addressing ones perfectionism will mean drastically compromising ones standards for themselves or others.

FACT: There are several keys differences between a person struggling with perfectionism and one who pursues excellence: Whereas both may set ambitious goals for themselves, perfectionists tend to strive for such goals out of a sense of obligation or fear. Perfectionists also tend to dramatically underestimate the amount of difficulty they “ought” to encounter when working toward any goal. Finally, if they fall short of a goal, perfectionists tend to internalize this as a sign of their own flawed character, which only drives them to cling more tightly to their perfectionism.   

Myth #3: Perfectionism is for life.

Once a perfectionist, always a perfectionist. That seems to be the conventional wisdom. And yet…

FACT: With education, support, and practice, anyone can develop the ability to let go of perfectionism. And more good news: Many of the most helpful techniques are already available to you! Next week, we’ll continue this series with the top resources you can start using right away.


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Did any of these perfectionism myths resonate with you?