Where there’s perfectionism, there is almost always a coinciding relationship with anxiety

In a society where achievement is heavily praised, perfectionism is often celebrated. But many experts view perfectionism as a problematic trait that can negatively impact mental health and well-being.

In "The many faces of perfectionism," published by the American Psychology Association, Dr. Paul Hewitt, a professor and clinical psychologist at the University of British Columbia, elaborates on how damaging perfectionism can be.

Hewitt, who has been researching and treating perfectionism for over 25 years, argues that it isn't a healthy motive for reaching ambitious goals and that the trait is linked to a range of mental health concerns.

Alexandra Stewart, a Vancouver-based registered clinical counsellor, agrees.

“Where there’s perfectionism, there is almost always a coinciding relationship with anxiety,” she says. “Perfectionists expect a lot from themselves, and these expectations never seem to get met,” she tells Wellness Matters.

To shift perfectionistic tendencies, Stewart suggests looking at patterns of thinking and questioning where these thoughts are coming from. She then recommends writing the thoughts down and talking them through with a trusted confidant or therapist.

Stewart also suggests challenging “all or nothing” thinking, noticing the positives, and avoiding catastrophizing.

Remember to be kind to yourself and celebrate your successes along the way, because good is better than perfect.