Perfectionism is often described as a positive trait, but in fact it is the pitfall of accuracy. True perfection does not exist at all, so you keep striving for something elusive. A few tips on how to deal with this better.

In my coaching practice I regularly come across them: people who strive for perfection. Nothing is good enough and things can always be improved as a result. If something is successful, they simply raise the bar so that they no longer fully meet it. This not only costs them a lot of energy, but also ensures that things sometimes don't get done because they are dreading it. Not a constructive property.

When it comes to perfectionism, Canadian psychologists Paul Hewitt and Gordon Flett distinguish three different areas where it occurs:

  • The demands you place on yourself: your bar is impossibly high and you have a lot of self-criticism. You take a mistake personally and it is often made bigger than it actually is.
  • The demands that others impose on you: in your eyes others expect you to be perfect. However, it is impossible to meet their requirements.
  • The demands you impose on others: you expect perfection from your environment. If they do not meet your expectations, you will become disappointed or even angry. You do not understand that others cannot meet your standards.

You can be a perfectionist in one area in particular, but also in all three. A characteristic of this is that perfectionists are real black and white thinkers. They have a static mindset that links performance to self-esteem. If something succeeds, it means a boost for your self-esteem. If something fails, you blame yourself very much. Only when you are the best are you really worth it.


In fact, you can see perfectionism as a way to deal with failure and vulnerability. It gives you a sense of control over the things in your life that makes you feel worthwhile. However, by making yourself so dependent on the judgment of others and by constantly raising the bar, the feeling of happiness is often short-lived. As soon as someone else turns out to be better than you or the feedback is less positive, your self-image changes immediately.

Rather than letting the perfectionist in you take over, it often works better to soften yourself up a bit. Coaching can help a lot in this. By learning to look at perfectionism differently and turning it into something more constructive, you can make your life a lot more pleasant. That is often a matter of finding the source of perfectionism and working on it. Would you like to talk about this? Please do not hesitate to contact me.