Perfectionism vs. Self-Esteem

June 3, 2023 Teddy Mbukha

Perfectionism is a double-edged sword. While it can help you achieve greater things in your personal and professional life, it can also lead to a never-ending cycle of self-criticism and low self-esteem. Perfectionists tie their self-esteem to their achievements, and if things don't go to plan, they start feeling like they are failures which can destroy their confidence and even self-confidence.

Are You a Perfectionist with Low Self-Esteem?

Based on my personal experiences, perfectionists often exhibit the following traits.

  • They can't start a task until they are 100% sure they can execute it. Perfectionists strive for flawlessness in everything they do; without absolute confidence that something is achievable, they will not start it.
  • They set extremely high standards for themselves and those around them.
  • They always feel that they need to have complete control over situations.
  • Perfectionists have a strong fear of failure. They may even avoid taking on new challenges unless they are confident they will win.
  • They have difficulty delegating tasks to others because no one else can do them as well as they can.
  • They obsess over small details and are more focused on the result.
  • They think a task is not complete unless they feel it is perfect.

How to Overcome Perfectionism and Build Self-Esteem

  • Identify your perfectionist tendencies -- The first step in breaking out of the cycle of perfectionism is identifying your perfectionist behaviors and tendencies. Self-awareness helps you know the extent and what you can do better to change and be more accommodating. 
  • Acknowledge the harm it is causing, mentally, emotionally, and even in your relationships and career -- Perfectionism can lead to feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy. It can also hold you back from taking risks and trying new things. By recognizing the negative impact of perfectionism, you can begin to take steps to change your thinking patterns and behaviors.
  • Allow yourself to make mistakes -- Don't be too hard on yourself. Failure doesn't mean it is the end of the road for you. You can always try again. 
  • Practice self-care (self-compassion) -- When you make a mistake, respond with self-compassion rather than self-criticism. Remind yourself that you are worthy and you are enough and don't need to attach your value to accomplishments or how others see you. 
  • Set realistic goals -- While it is good to challenge your limits, it is also great to be realistic to avoid disappointment. It is advisable to set smaller and more manageable goals. It is also good to always acknowledge your efforts. 

Perfectionism is a good and bad trait, depending on how it is experienced and expressed. Being a perfectionist has helped me succeed in many areas of my life, but it almost became my ruin. Once I learned how to balance out my perfectionist tendencies while maintaining my self-esteem and confidence, my life changed.

APA Reference
Mbukha, T. (2023, June 3). Perfectionism vs. Self-Esteem, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 24 from

Author: Teddy Mbukha

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