For perfectionists, life is an endless report card on accomplishments or looks. It's a fast and enduring 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. Perfection, of course, is an abstraction, an impossibility in reality, and often it leads to procrastination. There is a difference between striving for excellence and demanding perfection. 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

sara Canaday

Common Career Traps of High Performers

By Sara Canaday on September 19, 2017 in You (According to Them)
If you are a top performer (or a leader who manages one), it’s important to know the common career traps that may be draining confidence and diminishing a sense of achievement.

Orienting the Incoming Class: How I Introduce Myself

By Michael Karson Ph.D., J.D. on September 11, 2017 in Feeling Our Way
Orient trainees by displaying clinical values.

The Root of All Hypocrisy

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on September 08, 2017 in Ambigamy
In a pinch, we pull out bogus one-size-fits-all moral rules that we can't, won't, and shouldn't try to live by.

Are You an Unhappy Achiever?

By Lance Dodes M.D. on August 31, 2017 in The Heart of Addiction
Who could possibly be unhappy about achieving? The problem is that, for some people, achievement leaves them feeling empty to the core.

On Late Blooming

By Jen Kim on August 21, 2017 in Valley Girl With a Brain
What happens when our milestones are met with disappointment.

The Perfectionist Mistake about the Meaning of Life: Part 1

Some see life as meaningless because their obsession to achieve only the excellent blinds them to the great value of the good

The Problem with Assuming Others Are Perfect

By Barbara Greenberg Ph.D. on August 07, 2017 in The Teen Doctor
Assuming others live perfect lives is problematic.

Perfectly Wrong: Why Perfection Can Destroy Your Motivation

By Bobby Hoffman Ph.D. on July 21, 2017 in Motivate!
Perfection is elusive and fleeting, yet a coveted desire for many. There comes a time when striving for excellence results in obsession and anxiety leading to damaging behaviors.

Are You A Parenting "Know It All"?

"Parenthood is a contagious disease," Jeff Terry observes. "It's like smoking. Even though we can witness, firsthand, the devastation caused by parenting, it spreads.”

Anxiety as Depression Waiting to Happen

Why does anxiety often lead to depression, and even create further anxiety? This article provides an answer, and discusses a key factor in overcoming the comorbidity.

A Few Words to Young Adults with Disabilities, and Without

We all mess up. Its easy to be hard on yourself when you have a disability, or even when you don't.

The Tyranny of Perfectionism

Severe and fierce perfectionism is no laughing matter.

Why Is Everyone so Crazy about Narcissism?

For better and worse, it is a powerful—and alluring—personality trait.

You Love to Teach!

By Liz Swan Ph.D. on May 29, 2017 in College Confidential
Why do millennials expect perfection in themselves but resist like crazy the hard work it takes to get there?

When You're Tapped Before Age 30

By Caroline Beaton on May 19, 2017 in The Gen-Y Guide
Until we permanently alter the behaviors exacerbating our exhaustion, we'll remain rutted in perpetual recovery.

Being Parents of a Perfectionist

Being parents of a perfectionist: For some parents it’s a dream, for others a nightmare. For the kids, it trends toward the latter.
Thomas Webb

Leaving the Road to Hell and Getting Back on Track

By Thomas Webb Ph.D. on May 08, 2017 in The Road to Hell
Can being kind to ourselves help us to get back on track?

Pursuing Perfection Is the Point

By E. Paul Zehr Ph.D. on May 04, 2017 in Black Belt Brain
We place too much emphasis on results when the only thing we can really control is the process. The journey is the key especially when the destination truly cannot be reached​.

Tool to Help You Challenge Your Beliefs and Change Your Life

By Elizabeth R Thornton on April 13, 2017 in The Objective Leader
Have you tried to re-wire your neural net to create a better life? A practical worksheet to help you rethink the way you think and transform old mental models to serve you better.

What Do the Latest Plastic Surgery Statistics Say About Us?

In 2016, Americans spent more money on elective plastic surgery and non-invasive cosmetic treatments than at any other time in our nation's history. What exactly are we "fixing"?

Feeling Stressed? 3 Mindsets to Stop Tolerating

In my work helping people prevent burnout and build stress resilience, three themes consistently surface as barriers to being able to accurately perceive stress.

Transform Failure, Disaster, and Rejection Into a Fortune!

By Bobby Hoffman Ph.D. on April 10, 2017 in Motivate!
Maybe of us underestimate the power and influence of life's darkest moments. When you learn these simple strategies you will never look at adversity like you have before.

What Animal Are You?

Psychological health means constructing a version of oneself that is essentially human.

Are You Too Hard on Yourself?

How can we let go of subtle and not-so-subtle aggression against our own selves when we find ourselves flawed? In a world that suggests perfection exists, can we access peace?

Does He Bug You? This Could Be Your First Warning.

By Donna Barstow on March 31, 2017 in Ink Blots Cartoons
It's so annoying when he's just not as perfect as he could be - with your help.
Kristen Fuller

Eating Disorders: It’s Not All About Food

We often think if we lose those ten pounds, gain muscle or adopt that healthy skin glow then we will feel better to only soon realize our self-esteem is still in the gutter.

Productivity Boosters

By Joel Minden, Ph.D. on March 18, 2017 in CBT and Me
9 simple tips to get things done and be efficient.

Successful Imperfection

By Robert L. Leahy Ph.D. on March 15, 2017 in Anxiety Files
Living life involves making mistakes and getting on with things. But many of us get undermined by our fear and intolerance of mistakes.

The Shadow Side to Being an Asian American Over-Achiever

Guest blogger Nicole Hsiang explores Asian American perfectionism and its consequences.