Coping with Perfectionism

Perfectionism is a term commonly used to describe the habitual setting of excessively high performance standards that usually goes hand-in-hand with overly harsh self-criticism. It often results in feelings of depression when the unrealistic expectations are not lived up to.


  • Perfectionism is seldom helpful, and is particularly destructive when linked to things which are:
    (i) not totally under your own control (eg winning or getting selected)
    (ii) not that important in the grander scheme of things.
  • Perfectionism is an over-commitment to things - generally rooted in anxiety - which leads to poor decision-making and less effective behaviours. clinton thumbsup
  • Mistakes are key to learning - when you get too self-critical and don't 'allow' yourself to make them, you slow down your own progress. clinton thumbsup


  • Treat yourself the same way you would nurture a talented young athlete that you were responsible for. clinton thumbsup
  • Replace your striving for perfection, with the striving for optimal effectivenessclinton thumbsup
  • List common situations in which your perfectionism has in the past become a destructive force.
  • Identify and spell out a more effective approach to each of the above.
  • Practice these new approaches. clinton thumbsup
  • When busy with something, stop to check the bigger picture every now and then - giving yourself the opportunity to re-focus your attention if need be.
  • If your perfectionism continues to interfere in your general well-being, quality of life or your performance, consult a professional. clinton thumbsup


  • Where you originally developed your habit of perfectionism.
  • What purpose it might have served at that time. clinton thumbsup
  • How different things might be, if from here on you judged yourself not on how perfectly things turn out, but simply on how effectively you have done all the things which are under your own control.


Coping with Criticism

Coping with Disappointment

Coping with Pre-Competition Nerves

Coping with Negative Thinking

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