becoming a healthy perfectionist

We know, and you know your goals and standards are high and you work hard. 

 We see you.

 We are you. 

Yet there is a difference between pushing oneself, proving oneself, the need to be constanting performing, not wanting to make a mistake, as opposed to reaching for your high goals and giving grace for how far we have come for ourselves regardless of the outcomes being exactly what we aimed for.

The tricky part is, the world often rewards perfectionism and being hard on ourselves.

Are you in the constant loop and feeling the need to be perfect in order to pass society’s standards?

Bold Truth 

There is no possibility to reach this level of perfectionism. 

The words we use to describe unhealthy perfectionism towards ourselves, others, and society are often unhealthy and harmful to speak to ourselves or out loud.

Often when we feel we need to be perfect we also require the same from others, and they are commonly ridiculous demands of ourselves, others, or of society.

Perfectionism, regardless of the type, cannot be sustained, it collapses onto itself.

Types Of Perfectionism

Maladaptive Perfectionism

This is a term used to describe a person feeling it is either perfect or it is nothing, if it wasn’t perfect then it did not count.  All or nothing concept.

All they expected and achieved, and got this outcome, otherwise they do not consider this a win.

This is trying to prove to yourself and others how you are a high quality human being.

Black and white thinking comes into play, if a person even minorially fails and succeeds in another areas, they still view themselves or others as a total failure.  

People who embody this have often developed an insecure attachment style too, to how they connect with others. Combined with being raised by an authoritative parent.

Where a parent only gave basic needs to the child when the had specific desired outcomes the parent wanted, or the parent saw them as worthy of basic human needs because of their performance, their abilities, or their smarts, or pleasing the parent.

Whether this was communicated verbally or through actions, there is a lot of healing work and personal development a person can go down to heal these areas and start to build their self-esteem again.

Also, for them to start moving towards having a secure attachment style. 

Often this type of perfectionist cannot receive any kind of feedback because they waited a long time to make the jump. Once they took the risk or made the jump they have already researched and thought it out. If someone gives any kind of feedback this is seen as a slight to their ego and efforts and they cannot hear it. Often, they will become defensive, and lash out at the other person for offering feedback. They cannot take feedback of any kind because they are tieing their worth to their outcomes.

Adaptive Perfectionism

This is a healthy form of perfectionism, and hopefully a form all perfectionists can move towards.

There is no need to banish perfectionism from our lives, and I am completely sure this is impossible to banish it anyways.

If we have a strong desire to achieve, and push ourselves to great lengths in pursuing our passions, often perfectionism is in the equation…

You do not have to stop being a perfectionist, and nothing is wrong with you if you feel this inner desire to achieve and reach your high standards and goals.

This term defines a person who strives for success, holds themselves and others to high standards, yet lets go of trying to have control of the outcomes and is proud of all strides to meet goals and the outcome.

They can take feedback on their achievements because they are not tying their worth to their outcomes.

Traits Unhealthy Perfectionist Often Embody And Can Re-Frame

Unrealistic Standards Of Themselves, Others, And Society

When perfectionists are unhealthy they are often hyper focused on their inner world matching their outer world and when it does not they think they have failed or the world has failed them.

When these do not match up to meet our standards therefore we project them onto others, society, or ourselves and they are just not acceptable.  

Sometimes people suffering from unhealthy perfectionism, feel they have authority over themselves or others, even when they did not take the same risk, or they did not fail at the same topic.

They might feel a sense of authority coursing through their veins when they proudly give advice and project onto others because they have not failed at the topic…they think they have control over themselves and hold themselves to high standards therefore they can call out others and hold others to a high standard too. 

The Re:Frame 

Understanding how when we take a risk that our outer world feedback is valuable and not tied to our self-worth and seeing the gift of what this can give us. Understanding how giving others unsolicited feedback especially on something we have not risked, tried, or succeed in or failed in is unhealthy, judgemental, and hurtful them and us, and could even be preventing us from doing the ‘thing’ we need to for our success,


Unhealthy perfectionism is a form of control over themselves or others, and often a means to avoid looking at ourselves deeply.

When we are in this state of unhealthy perfectionism we might feel someone pointing out a failure of ours that our whole world will come crashing down.

To inoculate ourselves to this feedback we give a lot of criticism to others first, harshly judge others and ourselves out of anxiety and fear, thinking we are preventing this to be brought onto us.

The Re:Frame

Through personal work to let go of this control to some extent, we need to focus on work to be present and to let go of the desire to think we have ultimate control over all outcomes, others, or society. 

Tips on overcoming this can be asking ourselves these questions, and journaling them,

‘Where did this standard of this come from?’

‘Was this a person I should/ could trust, who said this?’

‘Are these people who I want to see me as lovable, that I cherish…do I have to care what their standard is, do I get to set my own standard here?’

‘How was my standard of this colored by others I love?’

‘Is this those people’s standard of themselves?’

‘Can I re-write this code of my life, in my head?’

‘Did I maybe misunderstood others’ standards of me, and I can zoom out and make my own standards?’

Super analyzing these topics above and be willing to re-evaluate these areas of our lives gives great clarity when reframing our perfectionist tendencies to gain true freedom in our lives. This does not mean to self-destruct, it means to question ourselves and reflect mentally on why we are holding certain beliefs around these standards.

Healthy Areas To Focus On For Healthy Perfectionism 

Focus on Results

Unhealthy perfectionists would focus on the exact results if they matched up exactly or not to what they wanted the outcome to be. Even if they came a long way in the process and achieved a lot. Focus on the results in the way of how far you have come from where you started.

Preventing Execution And Delaying

Churning on the possibility doing anything leads to us feeling even more failure when we do not do it, then this leads to procrastination. When an unhealthy perfectionist finally takes a step towards their goals and then they receive a little feedback from the outer world they commonly become defensive. They take the criticism to heart, and the defensiveness comes out to protect the ego which leads to lower self-esteem and even to depression. The ego protection and low self-esteem loop can be detrimental to our lives. 

A person with healthy perfectionism knows how amazing they feel when they do the goal and celebrates when they reach this. They have not attributed the outcomes to their worthiness, they have not given (outrageous) outcomes value, and do not tie the outcomes to their worth or value as a person, or to show others they are perfect. 

There is a balance when perfectionists are unhealthy they might often be pushing and doing things to give others a message that they are valuable, and the flip side of this, is if ther do not reach it, then they do not have value, or filling a hole inside. 

According to psychology, there are three main perfectionism types: 

Self-Oriented Perfectionism

Feeling you need to be perfect, pushing yourself to the limit to achieve perfect outcomes and situations.

Other-Oriented Perfectionism

Thinking others need to be perfect, and projecting perfectionism onto others.

Socially-Prescribed Perfectionism 

This is related to the angry mob coming after you, as an influencer or content creator. This is holding others and society to perfectionism standards. 

Where is the personal development in this? 

Often, perfectionism is a way to avoid looking into our own closets, and our own areas of personal growth. This is because we are completely consumed in meeting our goals and telling others how they can be more perfect too. All or nothing kinds of attitudes, and being above reproach, and this often keeps us playing small. 

Trying Something New 

Someone who is an unhealthy perfectionist needs to learn and understand, is that just trying, is to be celebrated in itself. Being an unhealthy perfectionist will make trying seem impossible because if they try it will be crushing if they fail.

This does not make someone competent, and it creates poisonous words to themselves and others plus the resistance of trying anything new. 

There is a push to not take risks to avoid failure with the deep seated thought they might have tendencies to think they are worthless, and a failure

They might feel they are not a good human if they did not get the outcomes in an exact way. Which takes a lot of energy to think these ways. These feelings are often pushed and fed by fears, this is sad because too many times to count people will see perfectionists who have not taken many risks in their lives. 

 Healthy Version Of Perfectionism

The high achiever can recover, and become a high achieving and forgiving perfectionist. 

 One of the main differences between an unhealthy perfectionism and healthy perfectionism is that healthy perfectionists usually are happy with all steps taken to achieve their goals.

They think, ‘I’m going to try my hardest, and no matter how far I come, I’m going to celebrate myself and others.’  

This is a high vibe way of thinking and leads to a higher quality of life. A much more fun and healthy way to start to go through life as a perfectionist who is healthy is to take risks, be happy with the outcomes, have high standards, feel lighter, appreciate success, and be thankful for all strides towards success. 

There are ways to get off of the protecting ego and self-esteem loop, and focusing on the positive attributes perfectionism can bring, when healthy it can actually feed into your self-esteem. 

 The key is to analyze why we are doing our goals. We are valuable just being, without doing anything, if we choose to do something, taking this step deserves to be celebrated.  

We Love Hearing From You 

Please drop some love in the comments. Also, please tell us what are the core beliefs you have that are driving your perfectionism, and how have you overcome these.


You can also find more information about Allison Ramsey, Facebook Digital Marketing Professor & Empire Life Founder at Instagram, LinkedIn, Website, and Twitter

To learn more about getting started with Empire Life in launching and scaling your online empire you can contact Allison, Founder of Empire Life, on Instagram and LinkedIn.


“The high achiever can recover, and become a high achieving and forgiving perfectionist.”

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