The Costs of Perfectionism

“Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.” ~ Judy Garland


Oh life is an amazing journey…

This past month or so, I have been taking my perfectionism to coaching. The penny dropped a little while back that I had tendencies for perfectionism, however I didn’t know how deep it went, until recently. Subsequently, I have been writing about my journey as I am developing insights. I have recently written –

Today I am going to focus on the Consequences, Affects or Costs of Perfectionism.


What are the Consequences, Affects or Costs of Perfectionism?

It is important to note that perfectionism can be a problem or challenge when it interferes with the optimal functioning of your life or leads to unhappiness. Having unrealistic expectations or standards can affect different aspects of your life including your health, work, home, relationships, hobbies and diet.

In the book The Pursuit of Perfect by Tal Ben-Shahar, Tal discussed the following consequences of perfectionism –

  • Low self-esteem,
  • Eating disorders,
  • Sexual disfunction,
  • Depression, and
  • Anxiety disorders.


Martin Antony and Richard Swinson indicate in their book When Perfect Isn’t Good Enough, the affects of perfectionism include –

  • Performance at work, home or school (e.g. expectations around having a clean home),
  • Relationships, friendships or family life (e.g. inability to communicate effectively or unrealistic high standards for other people)
  • Self-esteem (e.g. complaining when you receive anything lower than an A)
  • Social anxiety (i.e. can impair your ability to make friends)
  • Leisure and recreation activities (i.e. they tend to feel like work instead of fun)
  • Psychological functioning (e.g. depression, generalised anxiety and worry, social anxiety and shyness, anger difficulties, obsessive-compulsive disorder and issues related to body image and easting).


Other consequences or costs of perfectionism include –

  • Not trying new things (as you don’t want to appear stupid or not good enough),
  • Impatience (i.e. wanting to have things happen yesterday),
  • Obsessiveness,
  • Writer’s block,
  • Inability to relax,
  • Test anxiety, and
  • Performance anxiety.


Over to You…

So there you have it, a number of consequences, affects or costs of perfectionism.

One thing I have noticed on my journey around untangling perfectionism is once I had identified these in my life, I was empowered to make the next step with a conscious choice. Prior to this awareness, it was a little bit like groundhog day for me as I didn’t know what was happening.  Awareness – truly is a gift!


If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and opening your heartwhy not join our Toolkit?


References –

Antony, M., & Swinson, R. (2009). When Perfect Isn’t Good Enough: Strategies for Coping with Perfectionism. USA: New Harbinger Publications.

Ben-Shahar, T. (2009). The Pursuit of Perfect: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Start Living a Richer, Happier Life. USA: McGraw Hill.

Greenspon, T. (2012). Moving Past Perfect: How Perfectionism May Be Holding Back Your Kids (and You!) and What You Can Do About It. USA: Free Spirit Publishing.



Please note – if you are need help around perfectionism or your mental health, please find a qualified health professional. I have included some mental health websites here.

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