Perfectionists and Conditional Self-Worth

By Margaret W. Lavigne


Generally, perfectionists tend to have a higher level of self-discipline. However, some perfectionists take better care of their body through self-management and some perfectionists put their full focus into their career without investing time for their health. Many perfectionists are high-achievers with guaranteed productivity and many of them turn out to be all-year-round workaholics. Nevertheless, some perfectionist has a great chance to suffer from depression and anxiety disorders for their low ability to accept possible failure. An ambitious perfectionist is more inclined to set lofty goals which can hardly be accomplished within a limited period of time. Beyond that, some perfectionists are self-critical, because they always look for improvements, they might fail to satisfy with their own performance or present state. Once stress and anxiety accumulated, a person’s mental and physical health will at stake. That fully explains why an ambitious perfectionist is more likely to suffer from migraines, chronic pain, and chronic illness. Striving for excellence is good, but pride and vanity are absolutely harmful to our physical health. It’s worth nothing that anyone can be totally vulnerable and foolish as they seek to be superior to others.


Can a perfectionist be comfortable with his imperfection in all sides? The following is the common downsides of being a perfectionist.

  1. Perfectionists tend to push themselves to the limit, and that’s why getting negative feedback or failures would be more frustrating for them. Some elderly perfectionists suffer from depression and anxiety as they find they will never achieve high expectations for life.
  2. Some perfectionists never allow themselves to take rest. Thus, they have a higher risk for burnout, which is a surefire way to make their health condition deteriorate.
  3. Some perfectionists are in great fear of unveiling their imperfect self, such as their troubled past or failures. Indeed, some perfectionists have higher chance to be trapped by the past trauma and it could be a detrimental for their mental health. Being a perfectionist can be very frustrating because you never be perfect on all sides. I would say, God takes something away from every individual so we can be more compassionate to others’ loss or suffering.  
  4. Mostly, a perfectionist is more likely to suffer from a sense of dissatisfaction for failing to secure a dreamed life as the fairy tales. Likewise, it will be harder for some perfectionists to be grateful for their current life and current achievement. They might never feel good enough about yourself.
  5. Generally, perfectionists strive for the best and are being meticulous at every side and all the details. Some perfectionists have an unreasonable standard for themselves and for people around them. Evidently, being highly critical of others can be harmful to interpersonal relationships, marriage, and parent-child relationships.
  6. As to my observation, perfectionists are more likely to be those who have high self-esteem and they are not good at asking for help. They do not like to be treated as the weak, the disadvantaged or the inferior. They prefer to preach lessons or offer advice.




Lack of self-confidence can be a hint of wounds. Self-denial is not born by nature. Further, the inability to love yourself is a waring sign. You might get hurt when others throw stones at you for the first time. And then, you become the one who throws stones at yourself and you stop appreciating your self-worth. People find their own value from the judgment of others, and they start to question their life decisions and go through self-denying or even self-hatred.


How you interpret and treat failures? As we strive to be a better me, we will be motivated to correct our weakness. Human beings are born to be imperfect. Do not seek for perfection. Seek to be a better me.


Life can’t be perfect. Do not seek the applaud from the world. You and I will never be loved by anyone and we do not have to seek the love from anyone, especially those who are unworthy of your attention.  Peoples suffer for believing that they are “not good enough yet” or “they will never be good enough.” We will never be perfect but we can be a better me with little improvement day after day.


Common stereotypical perfectionism:

  • self-imposed perfectionism

The perfectionist set high standards for themselves. The expectation is based on their own.

  • socially prescribed perfectionism

A socially prescribed perfectionist tends to relatively more concern about the public eye. The perfectionist set high standards for themselves so as to fit the social expectation. In a sense, the perfectionist set high standards for people around them rather than themselves. 

Wise Library 1985

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