Perfectionism can make us ill, affect our health and relationships. Here's how
Expert reveals how perfectionism can be unhealthy and also be harmful to relationships; share treatment tips
Perfectionism is viewed by psychology as a personality disposition which is defined by a “need for flawlessness, high standards for quality and critical evaluation of self”. Most people might see perfectionism as a positive motivator in life, leading them to produce a better quality of work which thereby adds to one’s self-worth however, that may not always be true as perfectionism can be healthy or unhealthy, depending upon the parameters of the function that come along with it.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Kritika Zutshi, Clinical Psychologist at Fortis Hospital in Mulund and Kalyan, explained, “The perspective of healthy perfectionism embraces a balance between the expectation of achieving high standards with a sense of flexibility. Individuals who target realistic goals and leave room for human error are known to pursue healthy perfectionism. This kind of perfectionism can be beneficial, as it can lead to personal growth, self-improvement, and achievement.”
She elaborated, “Perfectionism can be unhealthy in the presence of unrealistic standards and inflexibility in the ways of achieving them. Such perfectionism can lead to a highly critical dialogue with oneself, as a result of difficulty accepting their own limitations. People may also experience a lot of stress and pressure to meet their own high standards, which can lead to feelings of anxiety, nervousness and disappointment because of constant unsatisfactory results. They may also feel a sense of hopelessness and despair when they are unable to meet those standards.”
The mental health expert added, “This type of perfectionism can also lead to procrastination, as perfectionists may put off starting a task because they are afraid that they will not be able to meet their own high standards and have a fear of failing to meet unrealistic goals. This can lead to a vicious cycle, as the longer a task is put off, the more overwhelming and daunting it becomes. Perfectionism can also be harmful to relationships as perfectionists may be critical of others and they might maintain unrealistic expectations of others as well.”
Talking about treatment for perfectionism, Kritika Zutshi suggested Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). She said, “These therapies focus on helping individuals recognize and challenge negative thought patterns and behaviours associated with perfectionism. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) are also effective in helping individuals to let go of perfectionistic tendencies and develop a more balanced and healthy approach to life.”