Perfection, of course, is an abstraction, an impossibility in reality. When taken too far, the striving for perfection can lead to negative outcomes, like procrastination, a tendency to avoid challenges, rigid all-or-nothing thinking, toxic comparisons, and a lack of creativity. Maladaptive perfectionism is often driven by fear of failure, feelings of unworthiness, low self-esteem, and adverse childhood experiences. It is frequently accompanied by depressionanxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, and even suicidal impulses.

Is perfectionism ever good for you?

There is a difference between striving for excellence and demanding perfection. Adaptive or positive perfectionists set lofty goals, have high standards, and work relentlessly hard for their success; they are achievement-oriented, whereas maladaptive perfectionists are failure-oriented. Adaptive perfectionists desire growth, enjoy being challenged, and problem-solve well. Their perfectionistic tendencies are a strength, not a weakness.

How can you overcome perfectionism?

Letting go of the comparison mindset can help people achieve at a high level, without being beholden to some impossibly perfect ideal. They can do this by practicing mindfulness and being present in the moment, using compassionate self-talk, and challenging negative self-judgments. The key is to realize that an endeavor can be worthwhile even if it’s not perfect.