For perfectionists, life is an endless report card on accomplishments or looks. It's a fast track to unhappiness, and perfectionism is often accompanied by depression and eating disorders. What makes perfectionism so toxic is that while those in its grip desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure, so theirs is a negative orientation. And love isn't a refuge; in fact, it feels way too conditional on performance. The need for perfection is usually transmitted in small ways from parents to children, some as silent as a raised eyebrow over a B rather than an A.

Recent posts on Perfectionism

How An Ancient Philosophy Can Help Us Defeat Perfectionism

By Ryan Holiday on October 18, 2016 in The Obstacle Is the Way
Don’t excuse yourself from trying to achieve your goal because the conditions aren't right. There are plenty of small steps that will help move you forward.

How Parents Inadvertently Foster Racism

Parents inadvertently cultivate a twisted superiority that hitches a ride on racial categories.
By John Snape (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The Art and Science of Mistakes

To err is human, human do we have to be?

When I Failed Miserably I Also Succeeded

By Dan Pontefract on September 19, 2016 in Working on Purpose
Why do many of us tend to run from the room screaming when we hear the word "fail"?

How To Be Perfect

By Gleb Tsipursky Ph.D. on September 18, 2016 in Intentional Insights
Do you want a perfect job? A perfect body? A perfect relationship? Perfect health?

Why I Still Don’t Like Diversity Events

By Michael Karson Ph.D., J.D. on September 13, 2016 in Feeling Our Way
Humility itself becomes a perfectionistic ideal, and it’s alarming how arrogant people can become about how self-effacing they are.

What Your Back Pain Is Telling You

By Shawn M. Burn Ph.D. on September 11, 2016 in Presence of Mind
Your back pain carries some important messages. Maybe it's time to listen.

The 8-Ball from Hell of ASD: Perfectionism

Perfectionism is a dilemma with two prongs: the self-imposed need to get things exactly right, and self-inflicted criticism in the face of inevitable failure.

Want Satisfaction? Do Not Use This Goal-Setting Strategy!

By Bobby Hoffman Ph.D. on September 06, 2016 in Motivate!
Some planning strategies accelerate performance and almost guarantee goal attainment. Others are counterproductive and often derail achievement. Which ones do you use?

Two Minutes to Wapner

"If our son isn't doing what he wants, when he wants, than all bets are off." What to do when the problem is not "disobedience," but cognitive rigidity and anxiety.

The Myth of “I Should Have Done Better”

When we are living from the belief that “I should do better," and “other people should do better," it sets us up for chronic judgment, resentment, and disappointment.

Are You a Perfectionist? Take This Quiz

By Judith Orloff M.D. on July 29, 2016 in Emotional Freedom
If you're a perfectionist or inner slave driver you'll need to tame these in order to live a live a happy, balanced life.

Why I’m Giving Up My Job as an Undercover Muppet

By Kristen Lee Ed.D., LICSW on July 29, 2016 in Reset 24/7
Are you a perpetual people pleaser? Our performance driven culture can leave us depleted, requiring us to rethink our obsession with perfectionism in favor of self-compassion.

“Dad, if I Get a B I Feel Like I’ve Failed”

By Marcia Morris M.D. on July 16, 2016 in College Wellness
College students are under increasing pressure to be perfect - to maintain high grades, have a busy social life, look great, all while appearing calm and collected.

The Life-Changing Magic of Exercise: Inspired by Marie Kondo

By Talya Miron-Shatz Ph.D. on July 12, 2016 in Baffled by Numbers
Marie Kondo, Japanese organization guru, has magical methods for sparking joy and getting rid of clutter. What if we applied them to exercise? This will really be life-changing.

Are You Addicted to Perfection?

We want to excel in our lives, but how can we differentiate the pursuit of excellence from a shame-driven desire for perfectionism?
Purchased from Deposit Photos/so47pics

5 Warning Signs That You Won't Succeed

By Pamela D. Garcy Ph.D. on July 07, 2016 in Fearless You
Warning: You might be sabotaging your success!

Guilty of the Sin of Outdoing

Some families are truly happy to have their child outdo them. But others may resent our success.

Grit: Is It Baloney?

Angela Duckworth has popularized "grit." But here's why I believe the concept is flawed, and in the end a remedy that produces mental health problems, and ignores social needs.

Infinite Perfectability

By Bernard L. De Koven on June 06, 2016 in On Having Fun
"A game is the voluntary acceptance of rules that require you do do something inefficiently." - Bernard Suits

Bathrooms: The Decades-Long Rise of America's Obsession

By Bella DePaulo Ph.D. on June 03, 2016 in Living Single
Long before the moral panic about transgender issues, bathrooms occupied an out-sized place in American homes and lives.
Photo by Kristin Meekhof

An Open Letter To All Graduates

An open letter to all graduates: create something that makes the world more luminous, curious and golden

How to Be the Perfect Perfectionist

Is perfectionism an asset or an obstacle to success?

Controlling Your Perfectionism Pedal

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on May 06, 2016 in How To Do Life
Depending on the situation, you want to press harder or softer on your perfectionism pedal.

Ditch Perfection and Embrace Progress

By Fran Simone Ph.D. on April 29, 2016 in A Family Affair
Does the voice of perfectionism shout at you? You can learn how to quiet it down.

The OCD, Super Diligent, Over-Conscientious Boss

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on April 29, 2016 in A Sideways View
Being careful and detail oriented is often a very desirable at work. But is this optimal rather than maximal. Can there be too much of a good thing with regard to diligence.

Less Than Perfect Is Just Fine

By Susan Hooper on April 28, 2016 in Detours and Tangents
In any creative endeavor, how does one strive for perfection while not being paralyzed or defeated by the knowledge that perfection is unattainable?

When Healthy Eating Takes You Down an Unhealthy Road

By Susan McQuillan M.S., RDN on April 26, 2016 in Cravings
Extreme healthy eating habits may signal an unhealthy lifestyle.

My Name Is Laura and I'm a (Recovering) Perfectionist

Many of us go through our entire lives feeling inferior because we never felt quite "good enough" as children.
Jim Taylor, used with permission

Five Mental Obstacles That Prevent Sport Success

By Jim Taylor Ph.D. on April 14, 2016 in The Power of Prime
Mental obstacles refer to any psychological or emotional issue that interferes with your ability to perform your best consistently in the biggest competitions of your life.