Why Are You Such a Perfectionist? – Video with Marc David

Whether we’re working on a big project for our boss, putting together a scrapbook for our kids, or choosing a great outfit to go dancing in, we all want our efforts to turn out well. But is it possible to take this desire too far? For some people, the fear of being seen as less than perfect can be a roadblock in the journey toward full and healthy self expression. If you’ve ever been told “You’re such a perfectionist” (or maybe even claimed that title for yourself), you won’t want to miss this video from #IPEtv. Join Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, as he takes a close and honest look at the darker side of perfectionism – you’ll be fascinated by what you discover

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Here is a transcript of this week’s video:

Greetings, friends. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.

Today’s Topic: Why Are You Such a Perfectionist?

More to the point, we’re going to take a fast and deep dive into perfectionism and see it for what it really is – a strategy that takes us in the opposite direction of where we truly want to go.

If you’re a perfectionist, then by definition you’re unhappy. The more intense your perfectionism, the more intense will be your unhappiness. People might not really see that part of you from the outside because perfectionists hide their inner turmoil pretty well.

And especially when it comes to food, perfectionists tend to live in a self-imposed prison that never has them reach their full happiness, their potential, or their enjoyment of food and body.

Here’s what’s so odd:

People mistakenly believe that perfectionism is a noble pursuit. After all, perfectionism sounds good on paper. Who wouldn’t want to be perfect? What a great target to aim for, isn’t it?

But the reality is, it’s a target that’s absolutely impossible to hit. And so the net result is that we foolishly set ourselves up for a very predictable failure.

Technically speaking, perfectionism is a disease. It drains us of our energy. It robs us of our dignity. It causes our brain to command us to do all kinds of foolish behaviors when it comes to food and body. Perfectionists can waste a ton of life energy thinking about food, worrying about food, obsessing about food, over exercising, hating their body, living in fear that they won’t be perfect, and beating themselves up whenever they do something that doesn’t fall into the perfect category.

And of course, for many perfectionists, it looks like they’re doing great. They might have a nice, hot and toned body. They might have their diet under control. They might be managing their appetite and eating little food so they can maintain their perfect weight. But secretly, perfectionists are living, at best, a life half lived.

Here’s the deal:

  • Perfectionism actually keeps us in a constant state of feeling that we could fail quite easily. Perfectionists are easily knocked off their horse.
  • Perfectionists are always living on shaky ground. One slight experience of being imperfect, and the perfectionist can easily turn to food for a strange combination of stress relief and punishment.
  • In other words, perfectionism is a setup for self abuse. Just about every single perfectionist I’ve ever encountered has this opposite side of self. They’ll go from doing everything seemingly perfect, to all hell breaking loose with food. In other words, perfectionism is a great predictor for all kinds of unwanted eating behaviors.

You will never ever meet a happy perfectionist.

When we go a little deeper into the psychology of perfectionism, we find that:

  • Perfectionism is delusional
  • Perfectionists tend to be uptight and live in their heads
  • Trying to be perfect creates separation from others
  • Trying to be perfect is energy-draining
  • Trying to be perfect is an odd form of arrogance
  • Perfectionism is most often a smokescreen for a lack of self-worth
  • Our perfectionism leaves an awful legacy to our children and loved ones
  • Perfectionists tend to not make the best lovers
  • Perfectionism takes us out of the game of life and tells us that we can be in the game of life only when we’re perfect – which means never
  • So in other words, perfectionism is a losing proposition

Now, if you’ve identified yourself in my descriptions of perfectionism, I hope you’re wondering how you can break free from this clinically bonkers mentality and begin to step into greater authenticity and a life well lived.

The first step is to admit that you’ve been bitten with the perfectionist bug.
You’ve got to own that not only do you do this, but that it’s deeply holding you back from becoming the greatest expression of you that you can possibly be on planet Earth.

Next, you have to examine in your own life how your perfectionism is indeed harming you. You have to look at the ways that this separates you from your loved ones. You have to look at how it drains so much of your thought energy and brainpower. You have to notice your unhappiness. You have to notice how you aren’t living in your fullest sense of pleasure and nourishment.

And then you have to slowly turn things around with baby steps.

Allow yourself to be human.

Allow yourself to be imperfect.

Stop being so selfish and begin to let go of your impossibly high standards.
Chances are, if you aim perfectionism at yourself, then you’re aiming it at others as well. And other people will eventually run away from our perfectionism either by leaving us, or by staying in the relationship but creating separation and distance.

Perfectionists tend to be quite afraid of intimacy, and strangely enough intimacy is one of the great cures for perfectionism. What I mean by intimacy is letting others in deeply so they see who we really are. And if they see who we really are, they will know that we’re rather imperfect. And that’s a beautiful thing.

As you allow yourself your imperfections, you’ll start to live. Your real life will slowly return. You’ll actually be happier. You’ll officially join the human family. And believe it or not, you’ll create the kind of emotional and biological milieu that will allow your body the potential to be the best that it can be.

I hope this was helpful my friends.

To learn more about us please go to psychologyofeating.com.

The Institute for the Psychology of Eating offers the most innovative and inspiring professional trainings, public programs, conferences, online events and lots more in the exciting fields of Dynamic Eating Psychology and Mind Body Nutrition! In our premier professional offering – the Eating Psychology Coach Certification Training – you can grow a new career and help your clients in a powerful way with food, body and health. You’ll learn cutting edge skills and have the confidence to work with the most compelling eating challenges of our times: weight, body image, overeating, binge eating, digestion, fatigue, immunity, mood and much more. If you’re focused on your own eating and health, the Institute offers a great selection of one-of-a-kind opportunities to take a big leap forward in your relationship with food. We’re proud to be international leaders in online and live educational events designed to create the breakthroughs you want most. Our public programs are powerful, results oriented, and embrace all of who we are as eaters – body, mind, heart and soul. 

Please email us at info@psychologyofeating.com if you have specific questions and we will be sure to get back to you.

Again that is psychologyofeating.com.

This is Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.

Thanks so much for your time and interest.

To learn more about the breakthrough body of work we teach here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, please sign up for our free video training series at ipe.tips. You’ll learn about the cutting-edge principles of Dynamic Eating Psychology and Mind Body Nutrition that have helped millions forever transform their relationship with food, body, and health. Lastly, we want to make sure you’re aware of our two premier offerings. Our Eating Psychology Coach Certification Training is an 8 month distance learning program that you can take from anywhere in the world to launch a new career or to augment an already existing health practice. And Transform Your Relationship with Food is our 8 week online program for anyone looking to take a big leap forward with food and body.


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  • Dust of the Earth

    When I make mistakes, I feel judgment being leveled against me, like I screwed up on purpose in a malicious attempt to make other people’s lives harder. Sometimes people actually make comments about something I’ve failed at. So I make every attempt possible to be perfect so nobody can claim I did wrong. And if I still can’t be perfect, I claim some internal failing that makes me unable to do the right thing, just in case anyone thought I was perfectly able to accomplish the thing and didn’t because I was lazy/bad/etc. And then I find it difficult to improve on things I’ve done poorly on in the past because what if this just proves I was able to do it all along and was just lazy/bad/etc.? Something must be inherently wrong with me if I don’t come up with the perfect behavior. As a child, I was really good at school. My parents told me to always do my best, but I knew of course that A grades were my best and anything less was not my best (my determination, not my parents’). I’m not sure if that has anything to do with my perfectionism or not, although sometimes I still assign letter grades to myself and if it’s not an A, it’s an F. Often I live in a world of failures. This hurts me, but I do it anyway.

    Oddly, I don’t insist on others being perfect too. I just assume they can’t help themselves and generally make excuses for them, or of course somehow manage to turn it into my own fault. Judging and blaming other people is on my list of bad things I need to avoid doing. I then feel terrible when people accuse me of thinking I’m better than them. I really don’t think that, but there’s a disconnect between my academic, rationally stated opinions and my behavior. I’m sorry for dumping all this here, but writing my feelings out sometimes helps me change. (And if anyone was wondering, I spent over an hour editing this to make sure it included everything I wanted it to and didn’t omit anything important.)

    • Thank you so much, Dust if the Earth, for sharing this! Your honesty and vulnerability are gorgeous!

  • Shauntel Farland

    I feel like I need to be perfect because it makes me feel like I’m on track to reaching my dreams. I have so many goals for myself, so I feel like I need to get them all done and constantly be working to achieve them. If I don’t give it 100% of my attention, I feel like I’m failing and not truly fighting hard enough, but this has led to binging episodes and I now understand that this is harmful for my health.

    • Thank you so much for sharing, Shauntel Farland! Wishing you all the best! 🙂

About The Author
Marc David

Marc David is the Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, a leading visionary, teacher and consultant in Nutritional Psychology, and the author of the classic and best-selling works Nourishing Wisdom and The Slow Down Diet. His work has been featured on CNN, NBC and numerous media outlets. His books have been translated into over 10 languages, and his approach appeals to a wide audience of eaters who are looking for fresh, inspiring and innovative messages about food, body and soul. He lectures internationally, and has held senior consulting positions at Canyon Ranch Resorts, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the Johnson & Johnson Corporation, and the Disney Company. Marc is also the co-founder of the Institute for Conscious Sexuality and Relationship.