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What does perfectionism look like and its classifications for the individual?

A perfectionist is somebody who pushes for perfection in all they do. Focusing attention on flaws, attempting to control things, working very hard, or even being overly critical of oneself or others are all common ways to achieve this.

Bin Burnout

Are you curious to know if you're a perfectionist? Chances are that you might very well be one, at least to some extent. Because of the positive implications of the term "perfect," there's a strong possibility you've invested some part of your persona in being perfect.

In this article, we’ll explore what perfectionism looks like and its different kinds. [1] Take a look.

Rigid perfectionism

Self-centred or strict perfectionists are meticulous and organised. They set high expectations for themselves in their personal and professional life, yet they are able to achieve their objectives. High levels of self-oriented perfectionism are linked to the most "adaptive" attributes, such as inventiveness and confidence, which are linked to increased success and achievement. They have higher levels of motivation and pleasant feelings.[2] Here’s what rigid perfectionists are likely to think about themselves. If they are questions you ask yourself frequently, you fall under this category. Have a look.

1. I have a strong need to be perfect.

Nothing short of perfect can work for me.

2. It is important to me to be perfect in everything I attempt.

No matter how difficult something is, I have to do it perfectly.

3. Striving to be as perfect as possible makes me feel worthwhile.

Performing flawlessly is the only thing that defines my worth.

4. My opinion of myself is tied to being perfect.

Doing things flawlessly is the only thing that defines me.

Self-critical perfectionism

Perfectionists who are socially driven are extremely critical of themselves. They are under a lot of pressure to be the greatest and are afraid that others will dismiss them. Anxiety and poor morale can be caused by the perception of social standards (which might originate from relatives, work environment, culture, and so forth) that are too demanding. We have listed some statements below. If these statements resonate, you may fall under the umbrella of self-critical perfectionism. Take a peek.

5. The idea of making a mistake frightens me.

Failing is something I don’t want to think about because it scares me.

6. When I notice that I have made a mistake, I feel ashamed.

Less-than-perfect is very painful, frightening and makes me experience a lot of shame.

7. I have doubts about everything I do.

I am quite self-critical, mostly unhappy and doubt myself no matter what I do.

8. I judge myself harshly when I don’t do something perfectly.

If something doesn’t happen perfectly, only I am to blame and nothing else.

9. I feel disappointed with myself, when I don’t do something perfectly.

No matter what the circumstances were, it was I who failed to get things done properly.

10. People are disappointed in me whenever I don’t do something perfectly.

I fear rejection or that a person may not take me seriously if I don’t do things flawlessly.

Narcissistic perfectionism

We tend to think of narcissists as people who are so focused on themselves that they don't care if they achieve beneficial goals as long as they appear to have done so. If they do, that's great; if they don't, it's acceptable as long as others believe they have. Until they manage to achieve their intended aims in the meantime, narcissistic people are more about notoriety, not the doing. However, academics have been intrigued by the idea that individuals who score high in narcissism also show perfectionistic tendencies, or have the urge to perform flawlessly.

Perfectionists who are other-oriented or narcissists — that is, they hold people to rigorous expectations that are harsh and condescending – can wreak havoc in other people’s lives. It's difficult to form productive connections in these circumstances, which is one of the reasons why this particular kind is so harmful and destructive. If you think you might be a narcissist and a perfectionist, here’s a quick way to reflect.

11. I expect those close to me to be perfect.

Everyone needs to be just as perfect as I try to be.

12. I am highly critical of other people’s imperfections.

Only I can do things perfectly. There must be a mistake there somewhere!

13. I feel dissatisfied with other people, even when I know they are trying their best.

They could’ve done better than that. At least I would have.

14. It bothers me when people don’t notice how perfect I am.

My work should never go unnoticed. And not me either.

15. I deserve to always have things go my way.

It should have gone my way because I know best.

16. I know that I am perfect.

I know and I believe that I am perfect.

Although perfectionists may get a lot of praise and may be considered absolutely outstanding in their work, it may motivate people to work excessively and this may lead to burnout for many. Pathological perfectionism can cause stress, worry, low self-esteem, and other issues that can negatively impact one’s quality of life. Perfectionists are critical, fearful, have unreasonable standards, dread failure, and get defensive when confronted with criticism. Are you struggling with perfectionist tendencies too?

Don’t worry, Brene Brown’s book The Gift of Imperfection is a ‘perfect’ remedy to your obsession with lawlessness


This 5-minute video is an excellent preview on the book, summarising Brown’s points in a comprehensive manner.

Take a look!



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