The 8th Deadly Sin…Perfectionism

Whenever I have a job interview, I use perfectionism as my greatest weakness, but always give it a positive twist. (That’s what you do right? Make yourself seem amazing? 😉 ) So that’s what I want to do in this post! A look at perfectionism through both positive and negative lenses.

What Does Perfectionism Look Like?

  • Striving for flawlessness
  • Setting unreachable standards for yourself
  • Being extremely self-critical
  • Caring a lot about what others think
  • Taking too much time working on and evaluating a project

The Good and the Bad

Perfectionism definitely has its positive aspects! It can increase productivity, help you reach your full potential, and help create wonderful finished projects.

However, it can be bad as well. I’m sure all the perfectionists reading will understand this. Have you ever been assigned a project and immediately stressed about it? I organized our church’s Christmas program this past December and WOW. It was fun and exciting to be in charge, but SO stressful from the get-go! I attribute this to a couple things: first, that I actually have generalized anxiety, haha, and second, my perfectionist tendencies!

The stress that comes with perfectionism just isn’t worth it, ya’ll! A little bit of stress is good – it motivates us to do things and do them well. However, too much in unhealthy.

As far as physical effects of stress go, there are quite a few that you’re going to want to avoid. Here are just a few:

  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension and pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive (no thank you)
  • Stomach problems
  • Sleep issues

I have all those issues anyway because of fibromyalgia, but stress makes it so much worse, sometimes unbearable. Along with the physical side effects, there are emotional/mental side effects of stress:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation and focus
  • Irritability (I know this one well 🙂 )
  • Sadness or depression

SO as you can see, one of the biggest side effects of perfectionism – stress – has its own host of nasty side effects.

So What Do We Do?

Talking about perfectionism and how good or bad it is is all good and fine, BUT what are we going to do about it? This should be a question you ask yourself about anything that you think should change – even big issues outside of yourself. Without action, discussion is passive. Here are some ideas of what you can do to battle the negative parts of perfectionism:

  • Relax. If this is just taking a few moments to breathe deeply, that’s great. Bubble baths, Netflix, breathing, and ice cream are all great ways to relax 🙂
  • Set reasonable goals. Part of perfectionism is having unrealistic expectations for yourself. For me, they’re usually very vague as well. Like “I want to be a perfect mom.” That is vague and completely unattainable. Sitting down to write down specific goals is an important part to combat toxic perfectionism.
  • Don’t beat yourself up. When you are hard on yourself, do you feel better, more relaxed, and ready to tackle your next to-do? NO. So just don’t do it! I realize this is much easier said than done, but it is so important to be kind to yourself. I’ve had a hard time with this in the past and it’s deadly. Being kind to yourself and having positive self-affirmation empowers you to do hard things and rejuvenates. In our house, we have little signs hung up that say things like “I am loved,” “I am strong,” and “I am beautiful.” (My husband put them up one night after I had gone to bed, the sweet man.) These are the kinds of things you should be telling yourself instead of beating on yourself.

Can We Be Perfect?

Quite frankly, the answer is no. We cannot be perfect. However, we can strive toward perfection while accepting our flaws and mistakes. More importantly, we can learn from them.

What are ways that you have found that help you get over or through perfectionism? Are you a perfectionist? I would love to hear your thoughts on this post and any tips you have that I’ve missed!


kat v.