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A Complete Survival Guide On How To Stop Being A Perfectionist

If you are constantly working for perfection, it can be detrimental to your well-being and self-esteem. Here are the best tips on how to stop being a perfectionist. 

how to stop being a perfectionist

“Nobody is perfect.”

We have all been told this old age at different times in life – after losing soccer games, failing job interviews, or sleeping past the morning alarm. Even though we are expected not to be perfect, anything less than that is deemed socially unacceptable

Therefore, ‘perfectionism’ is not just a flattering answer in a job interview when asked about your weaknesses; it’s also a far too common personality trait that has been emotionally destroying us

Being a perfectionist is a double-edged sword, just like any other personality trait. Any extreme form of the trait can be detrimental to your well-being. Therefore, being a perfectionist can have pretty real and severe consequences. As per research by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, perfectionist tendencies can lead to burnout, stress, and other health problems

The pressure of having a perfect job, perfect house, perfect partner, and overall an ideal life can be overwhelming. This is why learning how to stop being a perfectionist is imperative to let go of the useless pursuit of having the ideal life

In this blog post, we will dive deeper into why having perfectionist tendencies is bad for you and how to let go of perfectionism. Let’s get started. 

But What Is Perfectionism Anways?

how to stop being a perfectionist

In medical terms, perfectionism means having extremely high standards for oneself and constant expectations of perfect outcomes in all aspects of life. 

Perfectionists are prone to comparing themselves to others. They regularly set unachievable targets for themselves. After setting themselves up for failure, perfectionists feel guilty about not being able to achieve the said high standards. 

Obsessive perfectionism can lead to stress and health problems and affect people’s relationships. People with low self-esteem and perfectionism have trouble celebrating their wins, which can lead to negative self-talk and the onset of imposter syndrome

Anxious perfectionists often see success as an all-or-nothing scenario. They constantly struggle with feelings of not being good enough. They fear starting something new due to a deeply ingrained fear of failure. 

That said, perfectionism is not entirely harmful. A healthy amount of perfectionism in psychology can push individuals to do better and excel in their lives. However, this drive becomes problematic when it’s accompanied by intense stress and anxiety, limiting any scope of growth.  

What Are The Signs Of Toxic Perfectionism?

Perfectionist tendencies occur on a spectrum and can affect various aspects of an individual’s life. Here are some common signs of being a perfectionist:

  • Having trouble overlooking seemingly small mistakes
  • Having extremely high expectations
  • Feeling pressured to meet these high expectations
  • Obsessing over structuring and synchronizing things
  • Having a heightened fear of failure
  • Being overly ambitious
  • Having deep-rooted insecurities
  • Heightened rejection sensitivity

Why is Perfectionism Bad For You?

how to stop being a perfectionist

Now that you have understood the basics of toxic perfectionism, it’s time to get to the root of the problem. Why do you need to stop being a perfectionist? How does it affect your life?

For starters, no matter how much you try to portray your perfectionism as a positive trait, it’s usually pretty unhelpful. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy for your negative bias, low self-confidence, and debilitating self-esteem. It breaks you from the inside and affects various aspects of your life. Let’s dive deeper into what unhealthy perfectionism does to your life.

1. It makes you indecisive. 

The primary reason why you need to stop being a perfectionist is because it feeds your inaction. Perfectionism anxiety often tempts individuals to make the best possible decisions, even if that’s not a requirement. It leads to analysis paralysis, and you lose out on important opportunities in life. 

2. It hurts your relationships.

Perfectionism is not just bad for you but for the people around you. Anxious perfectionists do not just set high standards for themselves; they also constantly judge other people in their lives. They are always mentally calculating every interaction that occurs. They are obsessed with trying to portray a fabricated image of themselves.

However, while trying to create this flimsy social image, perfectionists forget to be truly present in their relationships and give it their all. This significantly affects all relationships in their life. 

3. It makes you avoid opportunities due to the fear of failure. 

Perfectionists are hard-wired to avoid failure or mistakes at any cost. The fear of failure is so deeply ingrained in them that they can go to any extent to prevent it. Perfectionists are willing to let go of life-changing opportunities or leadership roles because they might feel underprepared.

4. It makes you contemplate your weaknesses and negate your strengths. 

Another reason why you need to avoid unhealthy perfectionism is because it makes you ruminate on your mistakes, weaknesses, and failures. It fills you with regret and guilt. This way, you aren’t able to draw learnings from your mistakes and move forward. Instead, the act of failing or making mistakes occupies the central position of your life and determines your self-respect.

In this process, you completely negate your strength and fail to capitalize or make the most of your successes.  

How To Let Go Of Perfectionism?

negative perfectionism

1. Learn from your successes. 

The whole idea of learning from your mistakes might be too intimidating for obsessive perfectionists. It can work as a potential trigger and might become the reason for some serious overthinking and stress. 

This is why to learn how to stop being a perfectionist, start learning from your successes. 

Explore the process of your successful ventures (personal or professional). This will help you understand that you could reach a positive outcome even though you weren’t fully prepared. 

This will allow you to learn how to avoid being a perfectionist by telling you how essential your action-based approach is against the deliberation one. 

2. Set realistic and achievable goals. 

Another effective tip on how to stop being a perfectionist is to set realistic, measurable, and achievable goals. 

Unattainable goals are one of the root causes of negative perfectionism. Therefore, to learn how to stop being a perfectionist and get things done, start breaking your goals into smaller tasks. Further, divide your tasks into actions and give them a suitable timeline. 

Additionally, learn to prioritize your tasks depending on their difficulty and importance. This will help you determine what you need to do immediately and avoid the undue burden. 

3. Learn to appreciate the process. 

We have all been told how important it is to focus on the journey rather than milestones. However, whenever we hear this, we negate it as a self-help quote. After all, if you aren’t focusing on the milestones, how are you even supposed to achieve them? 

The true meaning of this age-old saying is that you must effectively divide your attention between the milestones and the journey. If you don’t focus on the journey, you’ll never be able to enjoy what you are doing. Moreover, when you concentrate on the process, you feel a sense of pride attached to your hard work.

If you attach your happiness to your hard work rather than the result, you are more likely to fight both low self-esteem and perfectionism. 

4. Face your worst-case scenarios. 

Another essential tip on how to stop being a perfectionist is to face all the worst-case scenarios that your fear of failure forces on you. 

Fear of failure often instills inaction and procrastination among anxious perfectionists. This inhibits your growth and creativity. Therefore, one of the best ways to stop being a perfectionist is to face your worst fears. 

Talking through your worst fears will allow you to trust yourself better. Getting the dark thoughts out of your mind will help you weed out your doubts and get things done. 

5. Audit your perfectionist tendencies and analyze your patterns. 

One of the most effective tips on how to stop being a perfectionist is to start noticing and understanding your perfectionist behaviors. This means auditing your thoughts and actions to notice what triggers them and how they manifest in your life. 

This way, you can collect data on your unhealthy perfectionism from your daily life. Once you have noticed the triggers, it’s time to analyze the patterns. Analyzing the patterns will make it easier to restructure your thoughts and actions.

6. Get professional help.

Learning how to stop being a perfectionist and get things done is tough. Additionally, the mental health implications of unhealthy perfectionism can make it quite difficult to tackle the challenges alone. 

This is why getting professional help is essential. A licensed professional will help you identify your negative thought patterns and effectively restructure them. They will also allow you to devise coping mechanisms to deal with the intrusive thoughts associated with your perfectionist tendencies. 


Being a perfectionist can significantly affect your self-esteem and mental well-being. It can become a source of inactivity, lack of personal and professional growth, and immense emotional stress. Learning about the dangers of perfectionism and how it affects your life can be a meaningful step in how to stop being a perfectionist. We hope these tips will help you get started in the right direction.

Apart from perfectionism, there are multiple signs of low self-esteem. To learn more about them, click here.

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