Why Perfectionism Causes Unhappiness

Why Perfectionism Causes Unhappiness

Last update: 25 February, 2016

Have you ever been around a perfectionist? Probably, yes. Their behavior is quite interesting, and sometimes entertaining. Perfectionists have a need to achieve perfection in everything that they do. From their work to the organization of their things, everything has to be in the right place.

They don’t want their coffee mug to be slightly turned to the right. They need it to be in the middle, perfectly aligned. A perfectionist mind will go to these extremes.

“Often, perfectionists forget the importance of efficiency.”

-Ismael Díaz Lázaro-

Why am I a perfectionist?

There are many reasons why people develop perfectionist personalities. In fact, it’s often considered a syndrome: “Perfectionist Syndrome” or “Anankastic Personality Disorder.”

Some experts believe that the cause of being a perfectionist could be genetic predisposition. Other experts think that it’s more likely due to environmental factors such as:

  • Their self-esteem depends on constant praise. 
  • They’ve been humiliated during their childhood and they want to be socially accepted.
  • Their parents are very authoritarian. 
  • They grew up surrounded by successful people and haven’t been successful themselves.
  • They have a very low tolerance for failure.
  • They’re aware that society is highly competitive.
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From birth, we are exposed to constant stimuli that marks us for the rest of our lives. Even though we don’t think about it, we are very easily influenced, and having lived through one of the previous situations has its consequences.

The society in which we live – with all its norms, laws, trends, ways of seeing the world – makes us want to be better than others. Being a failure is not seen well. Society believes that success is true happinessBut can we really live with this pressure? This is where being a perfectionist starts to be a problem.

“Success is the ability to move from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm.”

-Winston Churchill-

Perfection does not make me better

Always being correct, doing things well, not straying from the path – none of this will make you better. Understand that the more you try to be a perfect person, the less you are.

People aren’t perfect and we should embrace our imperfections as a part of us. They make us who we are. Only when we embrace our imperfections will we find perfect happiness. Because forcing ourselves to be something we’re not will not make us happy. All it will do is frustrate us and stress us out.

But what is day-to-day life like for a perfectionist? To start, we’ll tell you that they live with constant low self-esteem. So much so that not even praise from other people will make them feel better.

Guilt, pessimism, and obsession are three words that define them perfectly. Because they’ll never achieve what they want, because absolute perfection is impossible to achieve.

This will often cause them to fall into a depression, because disappointments and frustrations come one after another.


They become very inflexible and can not be spontaneous. Nothing about them is natural anymore; they become rigid, without any grace.

Like many other syndromes, perfectionism can also be overcome. As long as the person is aware that this attitude is not bringing them happiness.

When they’re aware that they have a problem, that their obsession with perfection is the result of pressure that they’ve been put under, they’ll be ready to take the first step towards acceptance.

It’s true that seeking to improve ourselves is very positive. We should all learn to be better, but never fall victim to perfectionism.

We should embrace imperfection, giving all we have to everything we can, but without obsessing over achieving something that we’ll never be able to achieve.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.