What’s inside this article: 8 common personality traits shared by perfectionists, along with an overview of some of the negative impacts being a perfectionist can cause on mental health.
Perfectionists are people who refuse to accept any standard short of perfection.
It might seem like you can spot a perfectionist from a mile away in the work place, but when you’re the one whose the perfectionist, it’s not always as obvious to you.
These are some tell-tale signs that you are, in fact, a perfectionist.
You’re Hyper-Critical of Your Own Work
When you’re working on a project – whether it’s for your career, a DIY project, an assignment, etc. you become hyper-critical of your own work.
You notice every flaw and minor detail, even when others cannot.
Because of this, you often judge your work and actually underestimate your own abilities because you’re holding yourself to such a high standard.
This standard may actually be unattainable and others show they are impressed with the work you do.
You Like Things Done a Certain Way
You have your own way of doing things, and you truly believe your way is the best way – the most efficient, and effective way. You’ve found ways to streamline processes in your day to day life.
Because of this, it’s sometimes frustrating for you when people try to help, because they don’t do things the same way as you.
For example, you may get annoyed with your spouse when they help with the housework, and end up re-doing their chores because they weren’t up to your standards.
You’re Never Happy With Your Success
Motivation to continually improve and better yourself and your life is a great quality to have. But, if you feel like your achievements are never good enough, you may be a perfectionist.
You rarely stop to celebrate your achievements, what your were aiming for just becomes not “good enough” and you want to go for more.
You Avoid Things You Aren’t Good At
You’re known for being so good at everything you do, but the truth is that you avoid things you aren’t good at.
This is for two reasons – a fear of failure because you don’t want others to see your shortcomings and judge you, and you are so harsh on yourself when you don’t perform to your own standards.
You Spot Mistakes that Others Don’t Notice
You may consider yourself highly detail-oriented because you can spot a mistake from a mile away.
Often these are valid mistakes. But, sometimes they’re self-imagined errors that lead you to unnecessarily spending too much time smoothing out the details of your work.
Depressed by Unmet Goals
When things don’t go as planned, you wallow in negative thought patterns, feeling depressed about your “failure”.
While it’s normal, even for high achievers, to experience disappointment when they don’t meet a goal, they can usually “bounce back” more quickly, while you spend more time feeling down.
You’re a Procrastinator
Although it seems counter intuitive because of how much time and effort you put into project, you’re prone to leaving things to the last minute.
You may even say your “perform better under pressure” as a reason for procrastinating.
Perhaps the actual reason for procrastination is because you will sometimes worry so much about doing something imperfectly that you’re immobilized by your fear of failure.
You’re Hard to Please
There is a saying that perfectionists are never happy, and that’s because you’re rare (if ever) actually perfect.
So if you’re noticing that your need for perfection is so great that it’s interfering with your ability to attain happiness, it’s a problem.
This can spill over and cause problems in your personal life as well, interfering with romantic relationships. For example, if you feel the need to control all the finances, schedules and details of your spouses life due to the fear of a mistake happening.
Maybe you’ve been labeled impossible to please.
Perfectionism Hurts Your Mental Health
Being a perfectionist is often viewed as a good thing. There are good things about perfectionism. Perfectionists are usually well dressed, well mannered, organized and articulate.
But too much of any trait becomes a problem. For example, it’s great to be confident – but not to the point that you seem egotistical or narcissistic.
The same goes for perfectionism.
If your high-standards and fear of failure are negatively impacting your life and your happiness, it may be time to work on those traits for the sake of your mental health.
Because, as it turns out, it does have a negative impact on your well being. This infographic from from Harley Therapy shows some of those impacts.
They go on to explain some of the specific mental health risks associated with being a perfectionist.
- fear and anxiety
- low self-esteem
- feelings of shame, guilt, inadequacy and helplessness
- obsessive thought patterns
- mild depression
- social phobia
- compulsive habits
- dread or paranoia
- loneliness and/or isolation
- body image issues
- substance abuse
Harley Therapy’s Help Guide also explains the different types of perfectionism, the causes, popular self-help books, and therapeutic options if it’s interfering with your life.