Extreme perfectionism is a compulsive lifestyle that has a high personal cost and can lead to anxiety or depression. Sometimes it hides a low self-esteem. That is why perfectionism is not healthy.

Being perfect means that you do not have imperfections, defects, or weaknesses. For some of us, perfectionism might seem an advantage, especially if it is referred to the work place. If you want to be successful, you should set high standards, have attention to details, and dedication.

However, this is a myth. Perfectionism does not mean to do things well.

Perfectionism affects people of all ages and lifestyles, and it is on the rise among students. An research in which 41,641 British, Canadian and American universities were included between 1989 and 2016, showed an increase in the percentage of young people who feel they need to aim for perfection to achieve their academic and professional goals.

Extreme perfectionism is a compulsive way of demanding that things and the way you do things shall be perfect and precise.

Aiming for perfection can have a high personal cost, it involves multiple negative effects, such as eating disorders, anxiety, or depression.

Especially among young people, the link between perfectionism and suicide risk is alarming.

According to the study, an increasing number of people have been experiencing what the researchers call “multidimensional perfectionism,” which includes perfectionism aimed at themselves, perfectionism aimed at others, and the socially prescribed perfectionism.

While self-oriented perfectionism focuses on extremely high personal standards, other-oriented perfectionism involves that others shall meet high and unmeasured expectations set by us.

In addition, the socially prescribed perfectionism implies the perception that other people, or also society at large, impose being perfect and having perfect performances.   

Every form of perfectionism has a negative aspect. When the person who aims for perfection fails, especially in the presence of others, they feel a deep sense of guilt and shame because they perceive it as a flaw or, even worse, as a failure.

Moving from being perfectionist to being a bit less perfectionist

We stigmatize ourselves when we fail, so it’s important to learn that failure is acceptable. This is an inevitable reality, as perfection does not apply to human beings.


  • give yourself permission to develop more realistic and flexible expectations;
  • keep your perspective and focus on what you are passionate about;
  • if you think, or have been told, that you are in a critical situation, do not hesitate to ask for professional help;
  • recognize that there is also meaning in failure, because you can learn from it.

To conclude, remember that to invent the light bulb, 2000 attempts were necessary!

What do you think about perfectionism? Do you recognise yourself in one category of perfectionism?

illuminated light bulb
Light Bulb – Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com