Do perfectionists have low self-esteem? (5 reasons)

This blog post aims to answer the question, “Do perfectionists have low self-esteem?” and explore the concepts of perfectionism and self-esteem, their relationship and their impact on people in order to help understand the answer. 

Do perfectionists have low self-esteem?

Yes, perfectionists can have low self-esteem because of the following 5 reasons – 

  • Lofty and unreasonable ambitions.
  • Perfectionists feel that their personal self-worth and others’ assessment of them is based on their accomplishments. 
  • Seeing the negative in the positive on a regular basis.
  • Being required to be the best.
  • Being too serious about things.

What are these 5 reasons why perfectionists have low self-esteem? 

Lofty and unreasonable ambitions.

Perfectionists have lofty and unreasonable ambitions when it comes to being a parent, a spouse, a friend, or a job, presenting a sporting or artistic performance, or simply preparing a meal. 

This can lead to a loss of self-esteem and a sense of personal fulfilment since we don’t believe we are good enough in many areas of our lives. You may argue that striving for perfection isn’t always a bad thing because it leads to the development of abilities, higher standards, and a drive to grow. This conflates perfectionism with a healthy desire for achievement.

We regard errors as part of the learning process – a chance to evolve – in a healthy drive for success. Perfectionists are never content with the results of their efforts. They discard anything that isn’t flawless. They may be afraid of failing, have doubts, be unhappy, and feel other negative feelings.

Both emotionally and professionally, perfectionism may hold you back. It has the potential to harm your self-esteem. 

Perfectionists feel that their personal self-worth and others’ assessment of them is based on their accomplishments. 

Perfectionists feel that their personal self-worth is based on their accomplishments and that others will assess them based on this as well. They will never be able to live up to the expectations they set for themselves, which can lead to self-criticism and blaming.

A perfectionist could put off starting a new endeavour until they’ve figured out the best strategy. They may fall behind on their job as a result of their procrastination, or they may put in excessive hours to accomplish a goal that others may reach in less time and with less effort.

One of the unfortunate outcomes of perfectionism is that it is inhibiting: it prevents us from taking chances and limits our fun. As a result, our potential to develop and be creative is harmed.

Perfectionism and poor self-esteem frequently go hand in hand. The amount of success determines a perfectionist’s self-worth. They feel useless if they aren’t successful and achieve. They are entirely unfamiliar with the idea of feeling themselves as deserving of merely existing.

As a result, they are always striving to improve. There’s nothing wrong with ambition, but perfectionists never seem to ‘arrive’ at the point where they’re happy. Either they set their goals too high and fail, or they set their goals too low and succeed. 

They become depressed and self-critical as a result of this. They may attain their objectives on occasion, but a perfectionist will often conclude that the objective was too simple. They’ll write off simple wins and establish new, more difficult objectives.

As a result, people believe they are never good enough, resulting in poor self-esteem. A perfectionist’s behaviour is motivated by a sense of failure. They try so hard to avoid failing, yet they are always afraid of being revealed as failures. 

As a result, many perfectionists experience high levels of anxiety and, in some cases, melancholy. They postpone a lot because they have such high expectations of themselves that they are afraid of not being able to meet them.

Low self-esteem and perfectionism are inextricably linked. Perfectionists don’t view this as an issue since they want everything to be flawless. They have a hard time accepting faults and defects and are excessively critical of themselves. 

Their incapacity to cope with flaws has a negative influence on their mental health. They worry about their mistakes and regrets, and they hold themselves to extremely high standards, which they would be heartbroken if they were not reached.

Seeing the negative in the positive on a regular basis.

Perfectionists fall into the trap of continually looking for the flaw in everything. This might be in reference to personal achievement, praise, a compliment, or a personal experience.

If something isn’t ideal for you, you won’t be able to enjoy or appreciate it as much as others. The standard you’ve set for yourself is unreasonable and excessively high. Your self-evaluations have gotten severe. As a result, it’s difficult for you to accept or appreciate yourself.

Being required to be the best.

A perfectionist’s self-esteem is frequently boosted or diminished depending on how they compare themselves to others. They must learn to avoid making these types of comparisons since they are both ineffective and unhealthy.

Perfectionists would only feel good about themselves if they could be confident that they were the smartest, kindest, funniest, wisest, and most fascinating person in the room. You are continually striving to be the best if you are a perfectionist. 

When you have to face the fact that you aren’t the greatest at anything, your self-esteem might suffer. Perfectionism almost always results in the notion that you will never be good enough.

Being too serious about things.

Perfectionism is typically linked to an unhealthy relationship with criticism and the views of others. You may mislead other people’s thoughts about you in the same way that you exaggerate your flaws to the point where they become a major problem. 

Anything even remotely serious is exaggerated to the point of inevitability. If you have a perfectionist mentality, you may also predispose yourself to self-judgment, such that even if someone isn’t criticising you, you interpret their remarks as such.

Everything is taken very seriously by perfectionists. If someone disagrees with them, criticises what they’ve written or done, or proves them wrong, perfectionists’ self-esteem may suffer. They may, however, overcome this negative, persistent tendency with practice.

Giving yourself a break and challenging your perfectionist inclinations might give a lot of relief. It might be a critical component in achieving a better, more stable sense of self-worth.

What are 5 ways of breaking the cycle of Perfectionism and Low Self-Esteem?

Concentrate on who you are rather than what you do.

What characteristics do you possess that distinguish you as a decent person? Do you have patience, kindness, and tolerance? Rather than concentrating on your accomplishments, consider the unique attributes that make you who you are.

Consider your senior years.

You’ll be more likely to have images of your friends, family, and pets up on the walls as you become older. You won’t be able to show off your diplomas, homes, or automobiles. 

Remember that relationships and experiences are far more valuable than material stuff. We are wired to desire more all of the time, yet this does not lead to happiness.

Define success in your own words.

To you, what does success entail? Is it a matter of position and power? Shift your emphasis to other people’s friendships and ties. This is the place where genuine happiness may be found. 

Wealth and prestige are important to some people, whereas meaningful relationships are important to others. People who focus on experiences and good interactions with others are significantly happier than those with ‘Type A’ personalities who are extremely goal-oriented, according to research.

Attempt something new.

If you’re a perfectionist, make a few mistakes. Send an email with grammatical errors. You may save money by cutting corners where you can. Demonstrate that you aren’t going to lose popularity. Reject the notion that failure is a negative experience. 

There is no such thing as failure if you keep trying. There are just lessons to be learnt. When you stop trying totally, you’re on the verge of failing.

Stop critiquing yourself.

Self-compassion is a virtue to cultivate, and you should treat yourself as you would someone you care about. We all make errors. Accept the fact that you are awkward and flawed. Accept that you are a human being.

Conclusion – 

This blog post aimed to answer the question, “Do perfectionists have low self-esteem?” and reviewed the concepts of perfectionism and self-esteem, their relationship and their impact on people to help determine if perfectionists have low self-esteem. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments you may have.

References –

Scott, E. 10 Signs You May Be a Perfectionist. (2022, January 5). Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/signs-you-may-be-a-perfectionist-3145233#:~:text=Perfectionists%20tend%20to%20be%20very,lead%20to%20lower%20self%2Desteem.

Muoio, D. Dangerous Dualities: Perfectionism and low self-esteem. (2015, August 25). Retrieved from http://blog.archprofile.com/archinsights/perfectionism-and-low-self-esteem

Chong, J.  LOW SELF-ESTEEM AND PERFECTIONISM. (2022, February 1). Retrieved from https://theskillcollective.com/blog/low-self-esteem-perfectionism

Newsome. T. 7 Ways Perfectionism Is Ruining Your Self-Esteem. (2015, November 13). Retrieved from https://www.bustle.com/articles/122782-7-ways-perfectionism-is-ruining-your-self-esteem

Is perfectionism a sign of low self-esteem? Quora. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.quora.com/Is-perfectionism-a-sign-of-low-self-esteem

Kloppers, M.  Perfectionism and low self esteem. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.thoughtsonlifeandlove.com/perfectionism-and-low-self-esteem/

5 Steps to Taming Perfectionism. The Contemporary Psychoanalysis Group. (2014, July 25). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/contemporary-psychoanalysis-in-action/201407/5-steps-taming-perfectionism

Alison. Perfectionism and Self-Esteem. (2015, January 15). Retrieved from https://corkpsychotherapyandtraumacentre.ie/self-esteem/perfectionism-self-esteem/

Woolfe, S. 3 Ways Perfectionism Can Lead to Low Self-Esteem. (2018, October 17). Retrieved from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2018/10/3-ways-perfectionism-can-lead-to-low-self-esteem

Joelson, R. B. Managing Perfectionism. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://richardbjoelsondsw.com/articles/managing-perfectionism/

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