Why Are You Such a Perfectionist?

Written By:

A woman in a black dress and black hat on a beach

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

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. Thanks so much for your time and interest. In the comments below, please let us know your thoughts. We love hearing from you and we read and respond to every comment!

A woman in a black dress and black hat on a beach

Become a Mind Body Eating Coach

Make real, lasting change - in your life and the lives of others using eating psychology coaching tools.


Subscribe to The Psychology of Eating Podcast

Get notified when new episodes go live.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Listen to The Psychology of Eating Podcast

Follow Us

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.