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The Seven Costs of Perfectionism

Perfectionists like to stick to the protocol, play by the book, and not take chances in order to avoid mistakes and imperfections. A closed mind is a poor prerequisite to creativity.
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Perfectionism Can Hurt Your Mental Health

Perfectionists pay a high psychological price of anxiety, worry, depression and/or dysthymia (low grade depression) (Maxmen & Ward (1995). According to Flett and Hewitt (2002) "perfectionists are more likely than nonperfectionists to experience various kinds of stress," and they tend to exacerbate their own stress (p. 257).

Perfectionism Can Hurt Your Relationships

Many perfectionists are pushed into therapy by family members and/or supervisors to address the problems of anger and hyper-criticism. If unaddressed, perfectionism is a relational liability that leads to social alienation, loneliness, and missed social and professional opportunities.

Perfectionism Can Actually Lower Your Productivity

Perfectionists, naturally, want perfect outcomes. As motivated as they are, their productivity might actually suffer since preoccupation with outcome distracts the mind from the actual work process. Perfectionistic preoccupation with productivity creates performance anxiety that subtracts from productivity and peak performance.

Perfectionism Can Make You Less Creative

Perfectionists like to stick to the protocol, play by the book and not take chances in order to avoid mistakes and imperfections. A closed mind is a poor prerequisite to creativity. As a result, perfectionism might be cutting into one's productivity, promotions, market value and job satisfaction by lacking creative problem-solving.

Perfectionism Is an Existential Trap

Let's face it: for some, perfectionism is an answer to an existential vacuum, a way to solve the crisis of meaning. Berg (1961) suggested that in a progressively unstructured society, an individual no longer has the benefit of the social structure to guide his behavior, and is, thus, forced to structure his own behavior. Perfectionism offers such structure and reassurance from the ambiguity and uncertainty of life. At the same time perfectionism may incarcerate the mind in the frustrating pursuit of the seemingly unattainable.

Perfectionism Can Lead to a Lack of Compassion

Perfectionism, in essence, is judgment and criticism of what is in favor of what should be. Moral or ethical perfectionism can result in a spiritual crisis that may drain you of kindness and compassion.

Perfectionism Simply Costs Money and Resources

Perfectionists, more so than others, are likely to try to fix what isn't quite broken, to do over entire projects because of minor imperfections and flaws. It goes without saying that perfectionism costs in money, time and materials.

Pavel Somov, Ph.D., author of "Present Perfect: a Mindfulness Approach to Letting Go of Perfectionism and the Need to Control" (New Harbinger, June 2010)