Are You A Perfectionist?



If we take notice of information around us we can find ourselves under pressure to be super healthy, fit, attractive, hard working and playful. Relationship wise we may feel we need to be the perfect parent, partner, sibling and son or daughter.


It’s natural to try our hardest for ourselves and others. But sometimes we can overdo it. This can lead to worrying we are not good enough, in extreme circumstances, this can result in anxiety or depression from all the stress.


One of my favourite 20th-century psychoanalysts was Donald Winnicott who talked about the idea of being “good enough”. Winnicott spoke about the “good enough mother” being the majority of mothers who try to be in tune with their babies. They get it right most of the time so the baby feels safe, nurtured and loved and can develop at a “normal” or ordinary rate.


If we did not experience “good enough”parenting as an infant we may suffer from feelings of not being “good enough” ourselves. As we grow up we may try to compensate for this insecurity by trying to be perfect so we are not judged by others. However, this can become exhausting over time and usually reinforces these feelings of not being “good enough”.

We can find ourselves in a vicious circle, unintentionally repeating an unhealthy pattern from childhood.


So What Can We Do About It?

These feelings of not being “good enough” are usually unconscious, ie hidden and suppressed over many years, so it can be difficult to recognise them. A good starting point is to become aware of what’s going on with us so that we can then do something about it. Once are aware of what we do we can then catch ourselves being critical and start to be kinder to ourselves so we take some of the pressure off.


How Can We Be Kinder To Ourselves?

We need to give ourselves permission to be good enough and give up aiming for perfection. This allows us to spend more time in ways that nurture us.


So, For Example, We Can:


  • Order a takeaway or go out for dinner once a week, rather than feel we have to cook the perfect meal
  • Resist wearing makeup or shaving one day a week
  • Hand in/publish our second or third draft of work rather than spending hours aiming for perfection
  • Ensure we have 2 days a week for leisure and/or rest
  • Prioritise chores so that we can spend some quality time with our children after school
  • Have one day a week where we chat instead of hearing our children read
  • Watch a movie, relax and be totally in the moment as a couple rather than catching up on emails etc at the same time
  • Take a proper break during the day where we totally switch off


It’s not always easy listening out for the judgmental voice within us. But once it becomes conscious we can tell it where it belongs, in the past. Then it is possible to change so that life becomes easier, freer and more enjoyable.




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