15 Signs Your Perfectionism Is Ruining Your Life

15 Signs Your Perfectionism Is Ruining Your Life

I am a self-proclaimed “recovering perfectionist.”

When I was in kindergarten, learning to write my letters, I burned holes in the paper, erasing and erasing my attempts until “A,” “B,” and “C” were, yep, you guessed it, perfect. This unhealthy relationship with perfection granted me an exhausting title as valedictorian of my high school class. This meant I was destined to be someone grand, like a lawyer, CEO, or surgeon… right? Wrong. So wrong.

By my first semester of college, I had a 42 in my advanced pre-med biology course. I didn’t understand or enjoy the material. It was too hard. I was too imperfect to keep up. However, this crash-and-burn lesson forced me to let go of perfection, albeit with clenched teeth and a battered heart. But I want you free from perfection’s ceaseless weight too.

Here’s how you know perfectionism is ruining your life.

1. You can’t be present in the moment.

You can’t enjoy the surprise birthday party you threw for your friend because you’re too afraid you’ll run out of appetizers, her dad will make some political joke, or someone will forget to make the group photo. In other words, you’re so afraid the party won’t go perfectly that you can’t celebrate your friend. It’s hard for you to be present in any moment because you’re always trying to control all situations to ensure perfection. Exhausting much?

2. Things that once gave you energy now drain you.

Hitting the gym was once a stress reliever, but now that you’re obsessed with beating your time at the next 5k, jumping on the treadmill no longer provides endorphins. Instead, it threatens you with failure, reminding you that you might not meet the mark, beat your time, and be, well, perfect. Be careful that you don’t allow perfection to destroy the hobbies and healthy habits that once gave you energy.

3. You can’t let go of little mistakes.

Perfectionists can’t accept anything less than flawlessness, which means any small setback or fluke is labeled a detrimental failure. If you can’t let go of little hiccups, from forgetting to respond to an email to packing your kiddos the wrong snack, perfection may be to blame. Side note: guilt and perfection make for a toxic concoction of shame that you shouldn’t carry.

4. You overanalyze everything.

You replay conversations over and over in your mind. You try to analyze what anyone and everyone’s intentions are, especially your own. Picking apart the tiny details of everything is not only obsessive and exhausting but often rooted in a need for control and perfection. Take heed and find a healthy way to declutter your headspace.

5. You can’t complete anything.

You can’t send the email because you haven’t proofed it… for a fifth time. You won’t perform the musical number for your family because you haven’t mastered the bridge of the song. You’re so afraid of being imperfect that you won’t complete anything. (And who wants to be perfect at doing nothing?)

6. You expect too much from others.

You expect perfection from yourself, so you naturally set the same high, impossible standard for everyone else. I hate to tell you, but it’s not fair to everyone else that you put unrealistic expectations on them. You can’t expect people to be anything more than people, and besides, you know how miserable the pressure is to be perfect. If you truly love your family and friends, why would you place that same burden on them? Beware that your need for perfection doesn’t drive a wedge between you and your loved ones.

7. Pride is your worst enemy.

You might not realize it, but for perfectionists, pride is often the worst enemy, The Guardian explains. Perfectionists don’t want to be seen as unable, unorganized, or anything less than perfect, so if you’re a perfectionist, take note that this hang-up with flawlessness can quickly become an idol, something you worship and place on a dangerous pedestal. This also allows the opinions of others to dictate the decisions you make, which is its own sort of danger.

8. You don’t want to hear other people’s opinions.

If you are always forcing people to meet your standard of perfection, it’s easy to assume you’re better than them. This means you likely don’t want to hear other people’s opinions. But if I can be honest, as a recovering perfectionist, I’m here to tell you that you aren’t better than anyone else. You don’t always know what you’re doing. And it’s a disservice to yourself to ignore the opinions and advice of others who love you and want to help you.

9. You can’t have a heart of gratitude.

When perfection is your standard, nothing satisfies you. You won’t be pleased with people, projects, hobbies, ambitions, etc. This makes it hard to adopt a heart of gratitude. Staying thankful keeps your mind in a healthy place and allows you to more easily appreciate the blessings that are right in front of you. Don’t let a hang-up with perfection keep you from being grateful for the good things in your life.

10. Anxiety plagues your mind.

Since nothing will ever go perfect (because no one and nothing will ever be perfect), it’s easy to grow anxious. Your brain convinces you of all the worst-case scenarios that could happen. This leaves you on edge and unable to truly focus on the task in front of you. However, the moment you lay perfection to rest, your mind will recognize that there isn’t a constant need to panic about everything not being just as it should be.

11. You’re constantly on edge.

Like I said, you’re on edge all the time because you can’t force anything to meet your standard of perfection. Nothing in life quite meets your mark. And when you’re edgy, you’re typically more irritable. This makes it hard for others to not only create but maintain a healthy relationship with you. You owe it to yourself (and your worn-out body and mind) to let perfection go.

12. Loved ones have called out your perfectionism.

If you aren’t willing to put a stop to the self-sabotaging perfection, loved ones will step in and call you out for it—because they care. Perfection can be much more harmful than you’d think, Verywell Mind notes, and the people who want to see you successful and content don’t want you trapped by unrealistic expectations you place on yourself. Their words might come off as overbearing or even rude, but take a moment to consider if you simply don’t want to hear what they have to say. Odds are, they’re saying what they’re saying because they care more about you and your well-being than whether or not you get upset with them. (That’s pretty selfless of them.)

13. You’re unwilling to learn something new.

You’re unwilling to learn something new because you don’t want to face that you aren’t perfect at everything. Trying your hand at woodworking or tackling a new sourdough recipe might mean coming to terms with the reality that you won’t get everything right all the time. You won’t always know what to do next or how to complete a project flawlessly. But that’s good for you. It’s humbling to realize how much you don’t know. Meanwhile, you have the opportunity to discover a new hobby or skill.

14. You can’t accept reality.

Nothing about life is perfect, so if perfection is the only standard you’re willing to accept, then life will be one disappointment after the next. Perfection doesn’t let you accept reality, and this can be detrimental to your relationships with others as well as your mental and emotional health. The moment you accept that setbacks and mistakes are unavoidable, you will more easily find peace, purpose, and even adventure.

15. You can’t celebrate any wins.

Why celebrate the A- you got on your math exam if you could’ve gotten an A+? Why bother showing others the poem you submitted for the contest if you didn’t win? When perfection is your idol, the impossible feat you worship, you can’t celebrate any other wins in life. That good grade on your test doesn’t have to be a 100 to deserve celebration. If you worked hard on your poem, who cares if it didn’t win a prize? You should celebrate the hard work and vulnerability it took to craft it! It’s time to let perfection stop ruining your life so you can enjoy those little victories that often mean the most.

Enjoy this piece? Give it a like and follow Bolde on MSN for more!

Peyton Garland is a boy mama and Tennessee farmer who loves sharing her heart on OCD, postpartum life, and hope in the messy places.