"Perfectionism: Why It Holds You Back and How to Overcome It"


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 10, 2023

3 min read


"Perfectionism: Why It Holds You Back and How to Overcome It"


Perfectionism is often seen as a positive trait, associated with doing a great job and achieving high standards. However, when taken to the extreme, perfectionism can become rigid and detrimental to our well-being. In this article, we will explore the underlying causes of perfectionism, its negative effects, and most importantly, actionable strategies to overcome it.

Understanding Perfectionism:

Perfectionism is characterized by excessively high standards and a rigid adherence to those standards. The problem lies in the inflexibility and all-or-nothing mindset that perfectionists adopt. They hyperfocus on achieving impossible goals, leading to burnout, neglect of other responsibilities, and a constant feeling of misery. To overcome perfectionism, we need to shift our perspective and develop a more flexible approach.

Recognizing the Role of Rules:

In the behavioral psychology community, there are two types of rule-following: tracking and pliance. Tracking refers to following rules based on positive outcomes, while pliance is driven by a sense of social pressure. Perfectionists often hold onto rules tightly, regardless of their effectiveness. To break free from this rigidity, we must examine when these rules are actually helpful and when they hinder our progress. This shift from rule-governed behavior to contingency-shaped behavior allows us to learn from our experiences and make more informed choices.

Discovering Your Values:

One effective way to combat perfectionism is by identifying and embracing our values. Values represent the directions we want our lives to take and the qualities we aspire to embody. By understanding our values, we gain guideposts that can help us navigate challenging situations and resist the grip of perfectionism. Unlike goals, which have an end date and can leave us feeling lost once achieved, values provide a continuous source of intrinsic motivation and purpose.

The Power of Awareness and Defusion:

Becoming aware of our perfectionistic thoughts and separating them from socially expected standards of behavior is a crucial step in overcoming perfectionism. By recognizing which rules we follow out of intrinsic desire versus societal pressure, we can gain clarity on what truly matters to us. This awareness also empowers us to develop the skill of defusion, which allows us to distance ourselves from our thoughts and emotions. Once we have this freedom of choice, we can realign our actions with our values.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Reflect on your values: Take some time to identify the values that are most important to you. Consider how they can guide your decision-making process and help you prioritize what truly matters.
  • 2. Practice awareness: Make a conscious effort to observe and reflect on the rules you follow. Determine whether they are driven by personal desire or societal expectations. This awareness will enable you to make more intentional choices.
  • 3. Embrace variability: Embracing variability in your behavior is key to personal growth. Allow yourself to try new things, make mistakes, and learn from them. Remember that perfectionism stifles progress, while variability opens doors to new opportunities.


Perfectionism can be a challenging trait to overcome, but by understanding its underlying causes and implementing actionable strategies, we can break free from its grip. By focusing on our values, practicing awareness, and embracing variability, we can cultivate a healthier mindset and achieve greater fulfillment in our personal and professional lives. Let go of the rigid pursuit of perfection and embrace the beauty of growth and progress.

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