The Price of Perfectionism

I’m going to be frank… perfectionism leads to ruins.  Trendy though it is, style over substance comes at a high price, but individuals (females, in particular) now understand the weight, and sometimes even the supremacy, of what it means to exude perfectionism.  Appearance, presentation and performance are revered, especially by those we believe to be in power, those we deem to be most critical, but of course, those who may provide us opportunities when we need them.  However, in having addressed perfectionism – both personally and professionally – for some time now, it goes much deeper than the external. 

Certainly, there are times when perfectionism is constructive, though I prefer to call it vision.  Achieving a standard, goal, task, etc. for one’s self is the surest means of self-empowerment, which most people find gratifying.  The problem, I believe, lies in the notion that there can be no missteps. When our vision turns into rigid expectation (of others and ourselves), imperfection tends not to be welcome in any form.  Amanda Neville (2013) states “….when I start to feel dissatisfied or angry, I first check in with myself to see if the cause is the fact that a person or situation is different from what I envisioned as ‘perfect.’”  Sage advice. 

Moreover, I think it’s easy for people to become trapped in a desire to imbue what they deem to be perfect, even if that means sacrificing one’s identity or expression in order to remain so.  For example, I’ve come across individuals who have a difficult time accurately expressing themselves for fear that what is said may be taken as negative.  And, when they’re asked if that’s okay, the overwhelming response is “well, of course not.”  In essence, because an exchange didn’t turn out exactly like a person might have wanted, it’s seen as imperfect, and therefore, no benefit is understood/realized.  We’re so damn hard on ourselves.  Living life means living with conflict, no matter how imperfect that may seem.  And, as tons of research has shown, flexibility among conflict fares WAY better than, say, rigidity.  (More on that next month.)

Written by Ann Kellogg, MS, LPC


Neville, A. (2013).  Perfection is the enemy of everything. Retrieved from