Perfectionism among professionals

Perfectionism among professionals 

Benefits of perfectionism 

I support professionals who strive for perfection at work. They are dedicated to their work and they go the extra mile. Some shared doing overtime to complete projects ahead of time. A common theme I noticed was these professionals have high standards and a strong work ethic. They would rather put in the additional work than ask for help. Finally, they are motivated and driven to achieve perfect results. On the surface, this may sound positive and ideal perhaps for some professions however, some perfectionists put an incredible amount of pressure on themselves to deliver perfect results and are left feeling frustrated and disappointed with themselves when this is not the case.  

The drawbacks of perfectionism

The professionals I support shared feeling angry and anxious when they were not able to achieve perfect results. For some, there simply wasn’t enough time, and for others they either did not have the energy or they did not have the resources needed to achieve perfection. Some were left feeling stressed and worried that they did not do a good enough job. Moreover, some shared feeling embarrassed and ashamed of their work even though, their coworkers and manager provided positive feedback and reassurance. 

Perfectionists shared feeling like they were not good enough, they were inadequate and they were a failure. These core negative beliefs appear and some professionals believe this to be true about themselves. Some perfectionists have high standards and sometimes unrealistic expectations which more often than not, is rooted in their childhood and their upbringing. When expectations are not met, a harsh, negative inner critic comes to the surface which may be a voice internalized by a perfectionist.   

Support for perfectionism 

Some short-term suggestions 

1/ To ask for help when/if possible as this will not only help complete the task at hand but it will also prevent burnout. Help from another professional will also provide another perspective.

2/ To take a break and breathe. Sometimes when professionals shared more about their day, they acknowledged they either did not take a break or that they took a short break during which time they focused on answering work emails. Taking a break is essential especially when trying to meet deadlines. 

3/ To delegate tasks to others as they will help free up time. Sometimes perfectionists are reluctant and hesitant to delegate especially if they are worried that others are not able to perform to their standards. However, delegating tasks and trusting they will do a good job will help prevent burnout. 

Some long-term suggestions 

1/ To question the negative core beliefs and to spend some time reflecting on where they stem from. For some professionals, their negative core beliefs stem from their childhood and either a parental figure or a guardian. 

2/ To rewrite a new narrative in counselling. It can be helpful to question old negative beliefs and to formulate new positive beliefs with a counsellor. 

3/ To practice self-compassion and self-kindness. Some professionals have a harsh, negative inner critic but they have the power to change this. By practicing self-compassion and self-kindness, this inner critic will be less powerful and prominent.


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