Being a perfectionist can often be deemed as a positive attribute. A person may describe themselves as having high standards, striving for excellence, and being hard-working. But in fact, there are 2 types of perfectionists — positive and negative. Positive perfectionists are achievement-oriented and want to succeed while negative perfectionists are failure-oriented and don’t want to lose.
Identifying these signs in ourselves and others can help ease our inner critic and could enhance our lives. We at Bright Side have compiled a list of signs to look out for to identify a toxic perfectionist.
1. Insisting that everything is perfect when it’s not
As much as we try to not worry about what others think, sometimes we can’t help but be aware of judgment from other people. For someone exhibiting toxic perfectionism, this is dialed up to the max. They want others to view them as flawless and they want it to seem effortless to others.
Any issues or difficulties they may be going through are hidden to the outside world, and they make their lives seem idyllic and faultless.
2. Setting unrealistically high expectations
Their definition of perfect is determined by what other people deem to be perfect. They find themselves focusing on what people will say about their work, project, or goal, rather than the endeavor itself. They seek the approval of others and therefore their expectations are unbelievably high.
3. Procrastinating and avoiding challenges
They put an immense amount of pressure on themselves, making their fear of failure skyrocket to a point where it’s impossible to start something without seeing all the ways it may fail.
This causes them to be blocked due to their expectations of negative consequences, so they can sometimes avoid a project altogether.
4. Never admitting mistakes
We learn from our mistakes, accepting there are things we can’t foresee. When problems arise we see it as an opportunity to learn and improve. An extreme perfectionist fears making a mistake, if they do, they do not forgive themselves for it. They criticize themselves for their error and stress over the outcome, causing them to feel inadequate.
5. Having a harsh inner voice
The voice inside of a perfectionist’s head is often very harsh and critical, which can constantly tell them they’re not good enough and verges on self-abuse. Dealing with critical people is often draining but when that person is ourself it can be extremely hard.
6. Not accepting or celebrating successes
They don’t acknowledge their wins or feel joy and satisfaction from completing their goal. They believe they could’ve done better, focus on the flaws, and spot a problem even when they’ve achieved their intended results.
7. Struggling to meet deadlines
They are always striving for more. Perfection is unattainable, therefore, the work is never done and it’s never perfect.
They are battling with themselves over every decision, trying to top every idea, which takes up a lot of time and causes an immense amount of pressure.
8. Getting defensive when receiving feedback
They can lash out when receiving constructive criticism or feedback. They filter out positive comments and praise and only hearing critical feedback intended to help improve their goal. This can make them feel attacked, which causes them to become defensive.
9. Being highly critical of others
We’re all capable of criticizing others, but a toxic perfectionist can tear others down to make themselves feel better and elevate themselves, which could cause colleagues and friends to avoid being around them.
Do you know of any other signs that show someone is a toxic perfectionist? Do you have any tips on helping someone quiet that inner voice?