Search and Disarm: Perfectionism as a Threat to Happiness


In order to poison life, perfectionism should not reach the scale of pathology, as in the heroine of the movie “Black Swan”. From the dark side of this personality trait, most excellent students “in life” suffer.

“Trying to reach the stars, perfectionists run the risk of hanging in the air. They are particularly prone to relationship problems and mood disorders, ”psychologist David Burns wrote 30 years ago.1

The signs described below will help you determine how far your perfectionism has gone – after all, only by realizing the problem, we can deal with it.

1. You try your best to impress

Typically, perfectionism develops during childhood. Parents and teachers extol the diligent and neat and criticize the negligent students.

Once on the hook of praise and recognition, the child tries to match in everything. He “reaches” – and because of this he “exists”. Unfortunately, the endless pursuit of great results can lead to frustration and constant self-doubt.

2. You felt more successful at school than you do now.

Some people hate school – but not perfectionists. The structure of schooling and the formula “be diligent, study well, get rewarded” is heaven for most of them.

However, in the adult world, success is measured in a completely different and less predictable way. Tasks no longer descend from the top, and it is very difficult to find an exact analogue of the “five plus”.

3. You are a great procrastinator.

Too strong a desire for success can paradoxically hinder it. Researchers at the University of York2 found that social approval perfectionism goes hand-in-hand with procrastination.

4. You find it difficult to open up to other people

Writer and research professor at the University of Houston, Brené Brown, compared perfectionism to the “20 ton shield” that these people carry around as a defense against other people’s assessments.

Their intense fear of rejection prevents them from being themselves, so they keep their emotions in check and want to appear strong at all costs.

5. You think on the principle of “hit or miss”

Psychologist Randy Frost has studied perfectionism for 20 years and found out3that perfectionists are so used to winning that they avoid risky projects or tasks. This, in turn, hinders creativity and innovation in their activities.

For perfectionists, there are no mid-tones and average results, they often suffer from eating disorders like anorexia. It always seems to them that the ideal, though unattainable, is at the same time somewhere nearby. It remains only to lose a little weight …

1 D. Burns “The Perfectionist’s Script for Self-Defeat” Psychology Today, November 1980.

2 G Flett et al. “Components of Perfectionism and Procrastination in College Students, Social Behavior and Personality”, 1992, No. 20.

3 R. Frost et al. “The Dimensions of Perfectionism”, Cognitive Therapy & Research, 1990, no. 14.

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