• Michelle Barsky

The Pressure of Perfect: How Perfectionism Causes Anxiety


While it’s important to strive to meet goals and improve ourselves, it can cause problems if left unchecked.


When the stress of striving for “perfect” becomes too much, it can cause anxiety symptoms. Society has placed so much emphasis on the idea of having the perfect face, hair, job, home, etc. We see it constantly on social media and it eventually makes us believe we have to have it all put together in the same way, otherwise our worth decreases.


Although this isn’t true, it can be hard to see past it. Let’s look at how perfectionism can lead to anxiety.

Perfectionism Can Lead to Stress and Negative Thinking

The anxiety and stress from perfectionism usually stems from trying to live up to an impossible ideal. Perfectionistic behavior can turn into constant worry about how others perceive you and can cause negative self-talk based on perceived shortcomings. There is an added layer of stress that can seep into every aspect of your life, particularly if you feel you cannot succeed in one particular area.


When someone is a perfectionist, they may jump to the conclusion that others will not accept them unless they meet impossible standards. There can often be a lot of self-blame when someone doesn’t think they can achieve these standards.


When someone doesn’t believe they can measure up, they’ll often start feeling like they won’t be able to fit in anywhere at all. This negative thinking can deplete your self-worth and make you feel incredibly unsuccessful.


These anxious thoughts, beliefs, and doubts can even result in isolation, loneliness, and depression.


Anxiety Caused by Perfectionism Can Sometimes Lead to Depression


Perfectionism can prevent you from opening up about shortcomings with others. You want to be seen as put-together and may be ashamed that you don’t meet perceived standards.


Bottling up these anxieties and insecurities can create an environment for not only anxiety itself to fester, but for depression to grow. It prevents you from letting your guard down. You might put on a brave face to meet appearances. This appearance becomes so necessary that you can lose sight of what’s really going on until you’re right in the thick of it.


It may seem impossible to give up that goal to be perfect. But the good news is that this feeling doesn't have to be permanent. You can overcome anxiety symptoms caused by perfectionism so you can live your life with more confidence and peace of mind.


But how?

Embracing Imperfections and Creating Realistic Goals

No one is perfect, and no one is meant to be. Constantly comparing yourself to others and trying to meet “perfect” standards can prevent you from thriving as the unique person you are. You have your own individual strengths and weaknesses.


Embracing the fact that no one is perfect will allow you to embrace your strengths. For some, their imperfections can even become their strengths.


Start by creating realistic goals for yourself. Follow people on social media who are open about and celebrate their human-ness, flaws and all. Talk to someone about what you’re feeling and turn to a reliable circle of support to lift you up when you’re feeling the pressure.


Anxiety treatment can help you gain tools for addressing the causes of your self-criticism, and where your striving for perfectionism came from. If you feel the stress of perfectionism is holding you back and affecting your mood, feel free to reach out to me. We can talk about what you’re feeling and work towards creating realistic goals and celebrating your unique strengths.


Reach out to me today to discuss your options for scheduling your first session.

For more information on treatment for anxiety and perfectionism, click the link!