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High-Functioning Anxiety goes hand in hand with perfectionists and over-thinkers, who put incredible pressure on themselves to exceed in all areas of life. 

Perfectionism is often an extreme attempt to control and manage the fear lurking beneath the pressure. It usually is not about perfectionism but about feeling safe. 

Most people associate perfectionism with the positive word “perfect.” Can it ever be harmful to strive for perfection? The answer is “Yes”, and it’s vital to understand why it is regarded as a negative characteristic. If you consider yourself perfectionistic, there are some harmful traits that you may need to overcome and instead learn healthy strategies to reach your goal.

The problem with perfectionism is that, unlike regular high achievers, you sometimes achieve less and stress more. Ultimately, it stands in your way of reaching your personal best.


Typical Characteristics of Perfectionists


Yes, they are like high achievers, but with a few critical differences:

They Are All-Or-Nothing Thinkers – High achievers can be happy with doing a good job, even if they don’t reach their high expectations entirely. But perfectionists will regard “Almost Perfect” as a failure.

They Are Highly Critical – High achievers are proud of their accomplishments and manage to support others in their attempts. Perfectionists focus on imperfections and have trouble seeing anything else, making them more judgemental and hard on others and themselves. 

They Are Driven By Fear – High achievers are pulled toward their goals and by a desire to achieve them. On the other hand, perfectionists are pushed toward their goals by a fear of not reaching them. 

They Set Unrealistic Standards – High achievers set their goals high while enjoying their pursuit thereof. Perfectionists often set their goals out of reach, making themselves unhappy in the process. 

They Focus On Results – High achievers manage to enjoy the process of growing and striving. At the same time, perfectionists only see the result and dread the failure. 

They Get Depressed By Unmet Goals – High achievers can bounce back reasonably easy from disappointment. On the other hand, perfectionists tend to beat themselves up when their high expectations are not met.

They Fear Failure – Perfectionists are more afraid to fail than regular high achievers. Because they are disappointed by anything less than perfection, failure becomes a terrifying prospect. 

They Are Procrastinators – Because they worry so much about possible failure, they become paralysed by it and struggle to do anything at all. The procrastination then often leads to greater feelings of failure. 

They Act Defensively – High achievers value criticism to help their future performance. Perfectionists are already terrified by less-than-perfect performance and could be highly defensive about constructive criticism.

They Struggle With A Low Self-Esteem – Because perfectionists can be very self-critical and unhappy, they tend to suffer from low self-esteem. Their critical nature and rigidity might push others away, leaving them feeling isolated and lonely. Consequently, the feeling of isolation can lead to even lower self-esteem.


Getting Help For Unhealthy Perfectionism


If you recognise some of these characteristics in yourself, don’t despair. Acknowledging that something needs to change is the first step in managing your mental health. 

Mental Health Professionals can help people with unhealthy perfectionism understand themselves and change their relationship with the condition.

For assistance with your mental health, call Life Path Health’s 24/7-Helpline on 072-7900-506.

Read More:

What is High-Functioning Anxiety?

The Positive and Negative of High-Functioning Anxiety

What People With High-Functioning Anxiety Want You To Know

What is Anxiety Disorder?

How To Deal With Anxiety in the Workplace

Advice For Helping Someone Dealing With Anxiety