Verified by Psychology Today

Perfectionism is a trait that makes life an endless report card on accomplishments or looks. When healthy, it can be self-motivating and drive you to overcome adversity and achieve success. When unhealthy, it can be a fast and enduring track to unhappiness.

What makes extreme perfectionism so toxic is that while those in its grip desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure, resulting in a negative orientation. They don’t believe in unconditional love, expecting others’ affection and approval to be dependent on a flawless performance.

What Causes Perfectionism?

Perfectionism is driven primarily by internal pressures, such as the desire to avoid failure or harsh judgment. There is likely a social component as well, because perfectionistic tendencies have increased substantially among young people over the past 30 years, regardless of gender or culture. Greater academic and professional competition is thought to play a role, along with the pervasive presence of social media and the harmful social comparisons it elicits.

The Dangers of Being Perfectionistic

Perfection, of course, is an abstraction, an impossibility in reality. When taken too far, the striving for perfection can lead to negative outcomes, like procrastination, a tendency to avoid challenges, rigid all-or-nothing thinking, toxic comparisons, and a lack of creativity. Maladaptive perfectionism is often driven by fear of failure, feelings of unworthiness, low self-esteem, and adverse childhood experiences. It is frequently accompanied by depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, and even suicidal impulses.

Essential Reads
Recent Posts
Most Popular