The Combined Struggle of High Anxiety And Perfectionism

A prisoner of perfection

The Combined Struggle of High Anxiety And Perfectionism

Perfectionists can be looked at positively, seen as successful, goal-orientated, and detail-focused individuals who have a hard-working mindset ahead of them. Most often, perfectionism is looked at with confidence and easily admired. However, for someone with perfectionism, it can often lead to defeatist thoughts, cause stress, and feelings of failure, and other mental health problems. Perfectionism often comes from places of inadequacy, and for those with a perfectionist mindset, high amounts of anxiety are also reported frequently.

When it comes to looking at the relationship between achievements and failures, perfectionism often strives to remove failure as much as possible by setting high standards. While often perceived as a personality trait, it can also create both positive and negative consequences for a person with this mindset. However, perfectionism can easily slip into a harmful thought process that places high amounts of anxiety and stress, and today, we’re going to look into perfectionism, how it relates to high anxiety, and what people with this trait can do about it.

Perfectionism, High Anxiety, and Accomplishments

Striving to do our best in our lives is often considered a healthy behavior, as setting goals and ideals can be motivating and invigorating to take part in. Many would often describe the combination of motivation and high standards as perfectionism. Perfectionism, in its shortest definition, is often defined as a need to be perfect and believe in the possibility of perfection. Some people would even use the term “healthy perfectionism” to describe their relationship with their need to be perfect in every part of their lives. However, some psychologists would argue that perfectionism and healthy motivation are two different traits entirely. In these cases, perfectionism can be looked at in a more negative light, where this idea of perfection is used as a source of protection from places of failure, criticism, shame, and judgment.

Perfectionism can also manifest other mental health issues if acted on negatively, as mental health problems such as stress, anger, depression, and anxiety are often seen as side effects of this trait. When it comes to anxiety, anxiety can often create scenarios of failure and shame, which may be used in some cases to fuel perfectionism. According to some studies, perfectionism and high anxiety are often interlinked due to various facets of the person’s life throughout their childhood, as the number of perfectionism people experiences often correlates to higher amounts of anxiety sensitivity. In these cases, it’s often due to situations that in-habitually created the trait, such as:

  • Parental Expectations: Parents often play an intricate role in the mindset of their children, as words of criticism and placing high expectations on children can ultimately result in high amounts of anxiety and perfectionism.
  • Performance Anxiety: In cases where personal standards are high, places where perfect performance is needed, can create the perfectionism trait.
  • Fear of Failure: Ultimately, the need for perfection can stem from a fear of failure, accompanied by scenarios of ridicule and shame brought upon by anxiety.
  • Desire For Approval: In other ways, the need for approval by groups, parental figures, and society can foster the perfectionism trait in people and cause high amounts of anxiety to occur.

Final Notes About Working Through Perfectionism

Ultimately, perfectionism can be managed by understanding its root causes, and finding those root causes through therapy can help manage expectation, understand failure, and help overcome fears related to perfection.

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April is the founder of Prestige Mental Health and is a board certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP-BC) who is qualified to practice primary care and psychiatry. She is passionate about providing quality, compassionate, and comprehensive mental health services to children, adolescents, and adults. April specializes in psychiatric illnesses including but not limited to depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, PTSD/trauma, bipolar, and schizophrenia.