Perfectionism

A fast track to unhappiness.

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For perfectionists, life is an endless report card on accomplishments or looks.

Perfectionism is a fast track to discontentment, and it is often accompanied by depression as well as eating disorders. While those in the grip of perfectionism desire success, they are usually most focused on avoiding failure. This gives perfectionists a negative orientation, which is what makes perfectionism so toxic. Luckily, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness therapy can be extremely helpful to perfectionists.

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.

Perfectionists set unrealistically high expectations for themselves and others. They are quick to find fault and overly critical of mistakes. They tend to procrastinate a project out of their fear of failure. They shrug off compliments and forget to celebrate their success. Instead, they look to specific people in their life for approval and validation.

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