Understanding Perfectionism

Is it perfectionism or pursuit of excellence?

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Perfectionism Defined:



  • Life is an endless report card on accomplishments/appearance

  • Often accompanied by eating disorders, anxiety and/or depression

  • Hyperfocus on avoiding failure = toxic perfectionism

    • Leads to avoiding challenges, procrastination, rigid thinking, and lack of creativity

  • Inability to differentiate between striving for excellence and perfectionism

Domains of Perfectionism:

  • Self-oriented - harder on self

  • Other-oriented - harder on others

  • Socially-prescribed - outside influences cause the behavior

Underlying reasons:

  • Greater academic/professional competition

  • Social Media - elicits social comparison

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Leading to:


  • No-win situation

  • Even when accomplishing a goal, perfectionists will remain unsatisfied and self-critical

  • Hampered relationships

9 Traits of Perfectionists

  • All-or-nothing thinking

  • Think, then act in extremes

  • Can’t trust others to do task correctly, so they rarely delegate

  • Demanding standards for self and others

  • Difficulty meeting deadlines because there is “always something that can be done to make it better.”

  • Using the word, “should,” a lot

  • Self-confidence depends on what gets accomplished and how others react to the perfectionist.

  • Fixation on something messed up, rather than on successes.

  • Procrastination in order to avoid situations where they think they may not excel

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If you want to find out if you are a perfectionist...

When in doubt, just live life like a pair of Blue Footed Booby Birds.

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Coming in December's Gifted Morsel

How do I help students who are perfectionists?

Sources (in order of appearance)

“Perfectionism.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/perfectionism .

Lombardo, Elizabeth. “9 Signs That You Might Be a Perfectionist.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 18 Nov. 2016, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/better-perfect/201611/9-signs-you-might-be-perfectionist .

“Perfectionism Test.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, www.psychologytoday.com/us/tests/personality/perfectionism-test .