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What is perfectionism and when is it a problem?

Updated: Jan 2

Most people would agree that having high standards and striving to do your best is a good thing. Some people may even describe themselves as a “perfectionist”, meaning that they strive for excellence. Indeed, being hard-working and ambitious can be admirable qualities. However, when we talk about clinical perfectionism, we're talking about something quite different.

Man sitting on the floor and working on his laptop

Read on to find out how to stay on the healthy side of “perfectionism”.

What’s clinical perfectionism?

Clinical perfectionism isn’t about trying to do things ‘perfectly’ or doing your best. Clinical perfectionism is about a tendency to set excessively high standards and to be overly self-critical.

People with perfectionism will often strive for unattainable, unrealistic, or unreasonably high standards. This can be at the expense of other important areas of their life and involve huge personal sacrifices.

People with perfectionism tend to base their entire self-worth on their achievements and their ability to live up to the standards that they set for themselves. This can lead to high levels of stress and anxiety if the person feels that they have made a mistake or somehow fallen short.