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

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.
Steven Seay, PhD

Giftedness and Social Problems

There are many reasons exceptionally capable kids can appear arrogant, perfectionistic, or impatient. Understanding and respect go a long way toward prevention and solutions.

Are You Poisoned by Perfectionism?

Is perfectionism ruling your life?

The Downside of Perfection: 7 Traits to Tame

Is perfectionism an issue for you? It’s hard to escape its grip in our modern world that glamorizes perfect parenting, perfect relationships, and perfect beauty.

Everyone’s a Princess Sometime

By Michael Karson Ph.D., J.D. on February 22, 2016 in Feeling Our Way
Most of what hyper-reactive people refer to as “triggers” are actually princess peas, evidence of their superior sensitivity that justifies the claims they make on others.

20 Signs You Are Too Self-Critical

Recognize these not-so-obvious signs of self-criticism.

Your 12-Step Program to Become a Recovering Perfectionist

Guess what? You aren't perfect. You never will be. But don't worry, the goal is not perfection. The goal is expanding your heart and creating more love in the world.

What's Wrong With Needing to Be the Best

By Lisa Firestone Ph.D. on February 12, 2016 in Compassion Matters
People who experience pressure or false praise from their parents may feel that if they can just be special or perfect in some way, they will get the love they never felt.

Unhinged, Part 1

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on January 28, 2016 in How To Do Life
A story about obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Don't Fall For These Six Myths Of Success—Do This Instead

By Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D. on January 27, 2016 in Feeling It
We have the misconception that, in order to be successful, we have to postpone our happiness and well-being. Here are the six myths of success that we tend to fall for.

How Erin Willett is Bringing Us Out of the Darkness

By Michael Friedman Ph.D. on January 25, 2016 in Brick by Brick
Erin Willett, first a contestant on "The Voice" and now part of the current cast of "The Biggest Loser", shares her personal struggle with binge eating.
Mary St George/ Flickr

Do You Expect Too Much from Yourself?

We burden ourselves when our expectations are unrealistically high. Being human means having limits and sometimes failing. But failure can be a doorway to future success.

Ridding Happiness Contaminants: Guilt

No one need be deviled by guilt, no matter what. Learn what causes guilt and, more important, what to do to rid it from your life – now and forever.

Calm Down with Logic-Based Meditation

Practice the contemplative life; relinquish the craving for what cannot be; attain enlightenment, and transcend the self-defeating thoughts that painfully overwhelm consciousness.

Recovery from an Eating Disorder is Possible

Recovery from an eating disorder is a process, however, the resolve to recover is a definite choice. Moving forward and avoiding the trap of recovery as a New Year's Resolution.

Embracing Imperfections for the Holidays and Everyday

By Karyn Hall Ph.D. on December 24, 2015 in Pieces of Mind
Perfectionism can be undermining your joy. Watch out for rigid expectations and judgments, especially of yourself.

Have a Very Meh Holiday!

By Carrie Askin LCSW on December 23, 2015 in Hurt People Hurt People
To you and yours, here’s to a very meh holiday with your flawed families. Be gentle, stay small and walk softly.

Four Kinds of Depression and Self-Hate

By Michael Karson Ph.D., J.D. on December 15, 2015 in Feeling Our Way
Chemical solutions maintain the depressive frame, whereas philosophical solutions challenge it.

Perfectionism: Benefit or Detriment to Performers?

By Robert H. Woody Ph.D. on December 15, 2015 in Live... In Concert
Rather than being a key to optimal musical growth, research suggests that a perfectionist mindset may in fact derail an aspiring musician's development altogether.

Cracks in the Firmament

By Paul Rhodes Ph.D. on December 10, 2015 in Post Clinical
Perfectionism, girls and anorexia
Google image

6 Ways Self-control Can Make You Worse Off

By Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. on December 09, 2015 in Science of Choice
Compulsive people are apt to get just as little long-range pleasure as impulsive ones.

3 Common Causes of Insecurity and How to Beat Them

Do you find yourself feeling unconfident and filled with self-doubt? Are you just waiting to be exposed as inadequate? Find out why you feel insecure and what to do about it.