Perfectionism is a trait that makes life an endless report card on accomplishments or looks. A fast and enduring track to unhappiness, it is often accompanied by depression and eating disorders. What makes perfectionism so toxic is that while those in its grip desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure, so theirs is a negative orientation. They expect others’ love and approval to be conditional on a flawless performance.
Perfection, of course, is an abstraction, an impossibility in reality, and striving for it can lead to procrastination, a tendency to avoid challenges, rigid thinking, and a lack of creativity. There is a difference between striving for excellence and demanding perfection. Unfortunately, the need for perfection is usually transmitted in small ways from parents to children, some as silent as a raised eyebrow over a B rather than an A, negatively impacting their self-esteem for years to come.