Why Perfectionist Thinking is Not Helpful

breaking free of perfectionism
Alison Hall
Alison Hall

Try Freedom Founder and Intuitive Eating Counsellor

The Pitfalls of Perfectionism: Why Perfectionist Thinking is Not Helpful

Perfectionism is a trait that many people aspire to possess, believing it to be a path to success and excellence. Most dieters and restrained eaters are perfectionist thinkers. Intuitive eaters are flexible thinkers. Beneath the surface, perfectionist thinking can often do more harm than good. In this article, we will explore why perfectionism is not as helpful as it may seem and how it can hinder personal growth and well-being.

  1. Paralysis by Analysis:

    One of the primary drawbacks of perfectionism is the tendency to overthink and overanalyse. Perfectionists often find themselves paralysed by the fear of making mistakes or not meeting their own impossibly high standards. This constant analysis can lead to procrastination and inaction, as individuals become trapped in a never-ending cycle of self-doubt. In reality, taking imperfect action is often more productive than waiting for the perfect moment.
  2. Mental and Emotional Toll:

    Perfectionist thinking can take a significant toll on one’s mental and emotional well-being. The constant pressure to be flawless can lead to chronic stress, anxiety, and even depression. People who strive for perfection often tie their self-worth to their achievements, making any setback or failure feel like a personal attack on their identity. This leads to a fragile self-esteem and emotional distress.
  3. Diminished Creativity:

    Perfectionism stifles creativity. When individuals focus solely on achieving perfection, they become risk-averse and afraid to experiment. Creativity often thrives in an environment where mistakes are seen as opportunities for growth. Perfectionist thinking, however, quashes this creative spirit, leading to a stagnant and unfulfilling existence.
  4. Strained Relationships:

    Perfectionists don’t only hold themselves to impossibly high standards; they often project these expectations onto others. This can strain relationships, as perfectionists may criticise and micromanage those around them. This behaviour can create a toxic atmosphere where people feel judged and undervalued, ultimately damaging the bonds of trust and camaraderie.
  5. Missed Opportunities:

    The pursuit of perfection can lead to missed opportunities. Perfectionists may be hesitant to take on new challenges or opportunities because of their fear of failure. In doing so, they limit their personal and professional growth. Success often requires stepping out of one’s comfort zone, which perfectionists may find exceedingly difficult.
  6. Unattainable Standards:

    Perfectionism sets unattainable standards. No one, no matter how talented or dedicated, can be perfect all the time. Perfectionists constantly move the goalposts, making it impossible to ever feel truly satisfied with their achievements. This can lead to a chronic sense of disappointment and frustration.
  7. Wasted Time and Energy:

    Perfectionists expend an enormous amount of time and energy striving for an unattainable ideal. They obsess over details that, in the grand scheme of things, are insignificant. This preoccupation can lead to burnout and exhaustion, leaving individuals physically and mentally drained.

So, what can be done to combat the negative effects of perfectionist thinking? It’s essential to recognise that perfection is an illusion. Instead of striving for perfection, focus on progress and personal growth. Embrace the idea that making mistakes is a natural part of learning and growing. Seek out support from friends, family, or a therapist to help address the underlying issues that drive perfectionism.


While perfectionist thinking may seem like a pathway to success, it often leads to counterproductive outcomes. Perfectionist thinking is not helpful at all. It can result in paralysis, damage mental health, stifle creativity, strain relationships, and cause missed opportunities. Embracing imperfection and recognising that progress is more important than perfection can lead to a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life. In the words of author and motivational speaker Brené Brown, “Perfectionism is not the path that leads us to our gifts and to our sense of purpose; it’s the hazardous detour.”

Help with Perfectionism

For help with perfectionism to assist your intuitive eating journey, book a free consultation with Alison at Try Freedom.

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