Perfectionism is not Self Improvement

Perfectionism is not Self Improvement. That sounds simple enough. Nevertheless I was caught up in this predicament for years. It is so easy to mistake perfectionism for self improvement.

I knew that something was wrong with striving to achieve this ever unattainable perfection. That this struggle has nothing to do with improvement and betterment. But until now I was not really able to name the distinction.

Progress over perfection

Until I read an article called: Choose progress over perfection. Apart from the obvious hook of the title the article went on to discuss perfectionism. And there I clearly read:

  • Perfectionism is NOT striving to do your best
  • Perfectionism is NOT self improvement
  • Perfectionism IS trying to earn approval and acceptance

The article went on to suggest self-compassion, self-kindness and mindfulness as the cure of perfectionism, but honestly all I needed for my cure was this clarity in stating the obvious. I wasn’t trying to get better. I was trying to gain approval. From others.

Maybe this distinction will also help you. Have you also been lured by perfectionism?

Send me a reply with your story. I would love to read it.

Note: Here are two books mentioned in the article that offer relevant insights to anyone interested.

  • The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
  • Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

2 thoughts on “Perfectionism is not Self Improvement

  1. The story of my life!
    When I recently asked my children to describe me with one word, they both answered : “Perfectionist! “.
    Yes, I’m a perfectionist and I know every positive (I guess there are some…) and negative aspect of the trait. Perfectionism creates great struggle and unhappiness to both the perfectionist and his environment.
    You are not willing to let room for any kind of help. You want to perform the task ON YOUR OWN!
    Besides, who could possibly perform it the way you do- i.e., perfectly? ??
    And so, you end up striving for perfection, when all you are longing for is a helping hand!
    To all perfectionists:
    Being wrong is NOT a threat to our self-image.
    Allow help make the difference!


    • I completely agree with you. And it’s not even about getting help. It’s about accepting things for what they are. And accepting people for who they are. And ourselves for who we are. And maybe just trying to be better without the need of approval from others. One perfectionist to another!


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