9 Behaviors That Prove a Link Between Perfectionism and Anxiety

9 Behaviors That Prove a Link Between Perfectionism and Anxiety

perfectionism and anxietyAnxiety


How many times have you heard the saying that nobody’s perfect? While most people know this, their lives can still be upset by a false façade. Perfectionism and anxiety often go hand in hand, making life difficult for you and anyone in your circle.

Of course, anything that you do is worth your best shot. Where would your life be without dreams? When you work hard and do your best, there’s no telling what you can accomplish.

However, the shackles of perfectionism are more of a hindrance than a help. Positive achievers realize that making mistakes is normal and is a way to learn and grow. Perfectionists may lack personal growth because any mistake is viewed as a complete failure.

When you’re a positive achiever, you can define your goals and figure out strategies for completing them. Often, perfectionists can’t stay focused on their dreams because they are too worried that the process may have a flaw. Instead of accepting a challenge, they may miss out on many blessings in their lives.


The Link Between Perfectionism and Anxiety

According to an article published by the Mayo Clinic, it’s common to have some anxiety. However, it becomes an anxiety disorder when you have overwhelming worry and fear about everyday things. It’s a feeling of stress and being afraid that you’ll lose control.

The link between perfectionism and anxiety is evident when you consider the thoughts behind each condition. Alex Dimitriu M.D. wrote an article on Psychology Today that states perfectionism can include self-criticism, fear of failure, and impossibly high expectations. These symptoms may be rooted in an anxiety disorder.

Behaviors of a Perfectionist

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Being a perfectionist goes beyond doing a good job. It’s being trapped in expectations that aren’t based on reality. Instead of doing your best and completing your goals, perfectionism leaves you spinning in circles of anxiety.

Most people who are stuck in perfectionism like to brag about it because it temporarily boosts their esteem. It’s a “better than you” attitude that is a big turn-off to most people. Perfectionists don’t want to admit that they’re afraid of making mistakes and being less than perfect.

Can you see yourself in any of these examples? Maybe perfectionism is holding you back from your best life. Here are nine behaviors of perfectionism and how they can be causing you anxiety.

1. Afraid of Failure

Your parents taught you to do your best and nothing less. You also want to succeed and be proud of your accomplishments. If you are hampered by perfectionism, anything less than being perfect is a failure.


Such a restrictive attitude may keep you from trying new ventures because you’re afraid of failing. You may also procrastinate because of this fear. When you are so caught up in equating perfection with success, it can build up a lot of anxiety.

2. Want It All or Nothing

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do your best. Working hard to achieve your goals is a virtue. Most people try their best and can be satisfied at the end of the day with their efforts.

Unfortunately, perfectionists aren’t happy with the best they can do. If their results aren’t unrealistically perfect, they may become anxious, depressed, and moody. The union of perfectionism and anxiety robs them of any satisfaction and the drive to do new things.

3. Creates Unrealistic Expectations

Assume you’re a perfectionist about your home, and you’re constantly flipping through magazines for pictures of the perfect house. While it’s a beautiful idea to find inspiration for various projects in your life, you can’t make unfair comparisons.

Did you realize that those glamorous photos of homes and gardens are usually staged? It’s unrealistic to think that your home will be as perfect and spot-free as these examples. These idealized photos neglect the fact that you must live in your home, and it will get messy at times, especially with kids.

Perfectionism and anxiety also can affect your self-image. No honest person can live up to the Hollywood photos of models. The lights, cameras, airbrushing, and computer tricks are blatantly deceptive.

4. Overly Defensive

When you expect all you do to be perfect, you’ll often want praise from others. If you don’t get enough compliments or someone offers a bit of constructive criticism, it may put you on the defense.


Perfectionists are often highly anxious people, and they will defend their skewed sense of accomplishment. Do you often feel angry and resentful because people aren’t living up to your expectations? It could be a red flag for perfectionism.

5. Depression

Even with your best efforts, you may not accomplish every goal you want, and it happens to everyone. Unfortunately for the perfectionist, they are so focused on anything negative that they can’t see anything positive.

Perfectionism and anxiety often bring depression into a tangled web. Maybe you feel depressed because every goal in your life didn’t work out perfectly. Have you stopped to consider the many objectives that you have accomplished already?

6. Often Procrastinate

It doesn’t make sense that people who are perfectionists are often procrastinators. While they view avoidance as a bad habit, they may often procrastinate because of their anxiety. In this state of mind, they are so worried that their task won’t be perfect that they end up doing nothing at all.

In a study published by McNair’s Scholars Journal, Carin Echols calls this a Jekyll and Hyde Paradox. Echols says that some people can positively use procrastination, especially those who work well under pressure. However, it is usually a negative aspect that takes its cue from unrealistic expectations and fear of failure.

7. Low Self-Esteem

If you have low self-esteem, you may think that you must work harder than anybody else. You may be unfairly critical of yourself and believe that perfection is your only key to redemption. The problem is that when your fantasy goals don’t work out, your self-esteem may dip even lower, causing anxiety and depression.

8. Lack of Enjoyment

Part of going on vacation is enjoying the trip to your destination. The same is true for focusing on a task and completing it. For most people, the process is just as exciting and rewarding as reaching the goal.

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