Perfectionism & Anxiety: How to Release Yourself From The Grips of PerfectionismBy Michaela

Are you constantly striving for perfection but not feeling satisfied? Do you feel overwhelmed, anxious, or emotionally paralyzed when certain tasks become too arduous? If so, guess what – you’re not alone. Thousands of individuals have these same struggles with perfectionism and anxiety every single day. Many find it difficult to escape the grips of this relentless cycle; however, there is hope in sight! By understanding why this inclination towards perfectionism exists in many individuals and by learning some helpful coping strategies and tools, a healthier way of living can be achieved. In this post, we’ll dive deep into the common roots behind these feelings of stress and inadequacy due to perfectionism as well as provide actionable ways that can help break its hold on your life for good!

Definition of Perfectionism and Anxiety 

Perfectionism is a personality trait characterized by an intolerance to imperfection and an excessive need for perfection. It often involves setting excessively high standards and goals, as well as feelings of guilt or dissatisfaction when those goals are not met. Perfectionism can also involve obsessive and compulsive behaviors, such as repeatedly checking one’s work or refusing to ask for help from others. This tendency towards perfectionism can lead to procrastination, increased stress levels, and difficulty transitioning to new tasks. 

Anxiety is an emotion characterized by fear, apprehension, or worry that can manifest both mentally and physically. It is typically associated with negative thoughts and feelings of unease, distress, or dread. These feelings may be accompanied by physical symptoms such as racing heart rate, shallow breathing, sweating, trembling, restlessness or fatigue. Anxiety can sometimes become so severe that it affects daily functioning; individuals experiencing this level of distress should seek professional help immediately.

The combination of perfectionism and anxiety often leads to a cycle of irrational thought processes that result in heightened tension and fear around one’s ability to perform up to their own expectations. With the need for perfection come expectations that can rarely be reached; this results in feelings of frustration along with increased levels of stress and anxiety over potential outcomes. As these emotions intensify over time it becomes increasingly difficult for individuals in this state to reason logically about their actions or successes; instead, they are left feeling overwhelmed by their perceived failures which can lead them into further cycles of anxiety-ridden behaviors like avoidance or procrastination.

Why Perfectionism and Anxiety Exist 

The connection between anxiety and perfectionism is a complex one but it’s important to understand the relationship in order to manage both conditions. Perfectionism is defined as an unrealistic, unachievable standard of excellence that individuals attempt to live up to, while anxiety is a feeling of unease or fear characterized by physical symptoms such as sweating, dizziness, and difficulty breathing. Individuals who struggle with perfectionism often feel anxious when they are unable to meet their own expectations, leading them to become overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy and helplessness. This type of anxiety can be especially damaging in situations where perfectionism is expected or encouraged such as school, work, or relationships. 

When these two conditions exist together, individuals often experience intense pressure and fear due to their inability to meet their own standards. This combination can lead to procrastination and avoidance behavior as well as rumination about mistakes or flaws which further reinforces the cycle of perfectionism and anxiety. Additionally, those struggling with this combination may withdraw from social activities due to worrying about what others think or fear that they will not measure up. 

Different Types of Perfectionism 

As with any cognitive behavior, there are a variety of types of perfectionism. You might be experiencing one, some, or all of them. Knowing the types of perfectionism that lead to your anxiety will be crucial in helping you to overcome your perfectionism-induced anxiety.

Self-Oriented Perfectionism 

Self-oriented perfectionism is a type of perfectionism that involves focusing intensely on one’s own performance, striving to be perfect in all areas. It can involve setting excessively high standards for oneself, and often leads to feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction when these standards are not met.

Self-oriented perfectionists usually have difficulty accepting mistakes and imperfections, believing their worth is based on their ability to achieve perfection.

This type of perfectionism can lead to anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and burnout due to the constant pressure to perform at an unreasonably high level. It also means that self-oriented perfectionists often miss out on opportunities that could help them grow and develop because they are too focused on achieving perfect results.

Other-Oriented Perfectionism  

Other-oriented perfectionism is the type of perfectionism where you become overly concerned with how your actions and behaviors affect others. It involves trying to please everyone around you by always doing what they want and expecting them to be happy with it, regardless of how it affects you in the process.

This type of perfectionism often leads to feelings of guilt and shame when mistakes are made or expectations can’t be met. Other-oriented perfectionists will also put an immense amount of pressure on themselves to appear perfect in front of other people, leading to a fear of judgment and criticism from those around them.

This fear can cause the person to become increasingly anxious and experience high levels of stress as they try to meet unrealistic expectations both for themselves and those around them.

Socially Prescribed Perfectionism 

Socially prescribed perfectionism is a type of perfectionism where an individual believes that they must meet the expectations of others in order to be accepted and valued.

This kind of perfectionism can manifest itself in many forms, such as the fear of not meeting standards set by family, peers, teachers, or employers. It involves constantly striving for approval from others and even avoiding failure because of the fear that it could lead to rejection or disapproval. For example, someone with socially prescribed perfectionism might feel pressure to succeed academically or professionally in order to impress their parents or peers.

These individuals often have difficulty setting realistic goals for themselves and may become overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety when faced with failure. Ultimately, this type of perfectionism can lead to feelings of inadequacy and depression if not addressed early on in life.

Negative Effects of Perfectionism 

As you might already know, persistent devotion to perfectionism can lead to a wide variety of negative effects and, specifically, anxiety.

At its core, perfectionism is a form of self-criticism, which means that an individual holds themselves at unreasonably high standards and experiences intense feelings of inadequacy when they cannot meet these expectations. This creates an ever-present sense of pressure that can manifest itself in different ways, such as rumination over mistakes or past failures, avoidance of tasks where failure is possible, or constant comparison to other people who appear to have higher levels of success. It’s this kind of relentless striving for perfection that makes it so difficult to cope with and ultimately leads to anxiety. 

Anxiety caused by perfectionism manifests itself through physical symptoms like headaches or muscle tension as well as cognitive symptoms like trouble concentrating or racing thoughts. On top of this, individuals afflicted by perfectionism-induced anxiety may also experience emotional symptoms such as guilt or shame when they are unable to reach their desired level of achievement. As a result, an individual who has perfected the art of self-criticism may begin to feel overwhelmed by these feelings and become increasingly isolated from loved ones who could otherwise provide support. 

The best way individuals can protect themselves from the dangers associated with perfectionistic tendencies is by understanding the difference between realistic expectations and unrealistic ones. It’s important for individuals suffering from this type of anxiety to recognize that not every mistake needs to be fixed immediately; rather than trying to achieve unattainable goals all at once, it pays off more, in the long run, to break up complex projects into smaller chunks that can be completed one step at a time. Additionally, finding activities outside work or school routines where success isn’t measured only by outcomes can help an individual find balance in their lives without feeling pressure from external sources. Furthermore, building meaningful relationships with friends and family members who understand your struggles can make you feel less alone in your journey toward recovery from perfection-induced anxiety. 

Ultimately, although persistence in achieving goals is important for personal growth and development, it’s important not to let these ambitions turn into unrealistic expectations that lead nowhere but stress and anxiety. If you recognize any signs of perfectionistic tendencies within yourself or someone close to you it’s important to take action early on before further difficulties arise – allowing yourself time for restful activities such as reading or meditating will help reduce stress levels significantly over time and restore balance in your life for more sustainable success in the future.

Definition of Anxiety 

Anxiety is an emotional state characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure. It is a normal reaction to stress, but when it becomes excessive it can have a negative impact on our daily life and relationships. People who suffer from anxiety may also experience difficulty sleeping, concentrating, and making decisions. 

People with anxiety often feel a sense of perfectionism. Perfectionism is the need to be perfect or to do everything perfectly, however, that may be defined. Perfectionists may set unrealistic goals for themselves and strive for unattainable results. Unfortunately, even if they reach their goals, they still can’t shake off the feeling of not being good enough or living up to their own expectations or those of others. This leads to feelings of failure and disappointment which in turn intensifies the symptoms of anxiety such as worry, fear, and restlessness.

The cycle of feeling overwhelmed by perfectionism and then being crushed by feelings of failure feeds into ongoing feelings of anxiety and can seem difficult to break out from. The key is to identify these patterns early on so that you can learn techniques for managing them more effectively.

Different Types of Anxiety Disorders  

Perfectionism causing anxiety is known, but what is lesser-known is the types of anxiety that you might experience when you lay too much importance and weight on perfectionism. Here are some of the most common types of anxiety that you might experience when prioritizing perfectionism in your life.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)  

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a type of anxiety disorder that is characterized by persistent and excessive worry over an array of life issues. People with GAD often experience persistent negative thoughts, intrusive worries, and the inability to control these worries. Perfectionism can be a major contributing factor to the development or exacerbation of GAD. Perfectionists often have extremely high expectations for themselves and others, leading to feelings of stress when those expectations are not met. This can cause them to ruminate on their fears and worries, leading to an increase in anxiety symptoms.

People with GAD may find it difficult to perform everyday tasks due to their overwhelming sense of distress about worrying about all aspects of their life. They may fear making mistakes even in areas such as work, school, social interactions, and more. Additionally, perfectionism has been linked with increased instances of physical health problems such as insomnia, digestive issues associated with stress levels, muscle tension, fatigue headaches etc., which can further add to the difficulties of living with GAD. 

Those with Generalized Anxiety Disorder also experience difficulties in social situations or relationships due to their persistent worrying; they may withdraw from activities or find themselves unable to partake in conversations or daily functions due to their worrying nature. With perfectionism added into the mix it can be even harder for GAD sufferers as they may struggle with feeling inadequate or that they are never performing well enough or meeting others’ expectations; thus leading them into a cycle of near-constant worry and anxiety over the smallest things.

Panic Disorder  

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder that involves sudden and overpowering feelings of terror. People with panic disorder experience recurrent episodes of intense fear, panic attacks, and physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, heart palpitations, dizziness, and chest pain. For many people with this type of anxiety disorder, perfectionism can add to the problem. Perfectionism often creates an unreasonable expectation of oneself or an unrealistic standard for performance that can be difficult to live up to. This leads to an inability to accept imperfection or failure in one’s life; instead, their focus becomes rigidly fixed on achieving a perfect outcome or result. The resulting stress and pressure can cause a person to become overwhelmed by fear and anxiety which can lead to panic attacks. 

Living with panic disorder can be a great challenge and burden as it affects your ability to cope with everyday life tasks. It can affect you socially and emotionally by limiting your ability to enjoy activities you once found pleasurable and reducing your emotional availability in relationships due to the feeling of having low self-worth and not being good enough. Panic disorder limits your ability to function normally in professional settings due to heightened levels of fear caused by having unrealistic standards of success that perfectionism creates and the resulting shame when these standards cannot be met. Additionally, physical symptoms due to panic attacks such as chest pain or loss of breath may be embarrassing for some individuals causing them further distress when engaging in social situations. All these challenges are made worse by the added layer of perfectionism adds which creates more pressure on individuals battling this type of anxiety disorder.

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)  

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is an anxiety disorder marked by excessive fear of scrutiny or evaluation by other people in social situations. Individuals with SAD experience extreme discomfort and nervousness in any situation where they are the focus of attention, such as speaking in public, going to parties, or dating. Perfectionism plays a major role in SAD as it creates an unrealistic expectation that one should never make mistakes or appear awkward or embarrassed in front of others. This can result in very high levels of self-criticism and fear of judgment, which can lead to intrusive thoughts and physical symptoms such as blushing, sweating, trembling, nausea, and difficulty talking. 

Living with Social Anxiety Disorder can be incredibly challenging due to the significant impact it has on everyday life. Those who struggle with SAD might have difficulty forming relationships due to their overwhelming fear of being judged negatively by others; they may also avoid job opportunities that require them to speak publicly or interact with people on a regular basis. This can lead to feelings of isolation and low self-esteem for individuals struggling with SAD, as well as a sense that no matter how hard they work at something – whether it’s completing a task for work or speaking up in class – things will never turn out perfectly due to their intense fear of making mistakes or being judged. 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)  

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that a person feels compelled to respond to with specific behaviors. People with OCD experience recurring and persistent thoughts, images, or impulses that are unwanted and cause distress. Those affected may feel the need to perform certain rituals or behaviors in order to alleviate the distress caused by these obsessions. Perfectionism can have a huge impact on people suffering from OCD, as they may feel an increased pressure to constantly strive for an ideal level of perfection in their everyday lives and activities.

People who suffer from OCD will often put themselves through a great deal of stress as they try to make sure that everything goes according to their own set rules or routines. For example, someone might wash their hands excessively or repeatedly check locks or appliances for fear that something bad will happen if the ritual is not completed. Additionally, those with OCD may struggle with perfectionism when it comes to organizing their environment, obsessing over minor details such as making sure all items are arranged perfectly or making sure everything is clean and dust-free. 

Having this type of anxiety can cause tremendous life challenges because it takes up so much time and energy that could be spent doing more important tasks. It can also lead to social isolation due to the shame associated with certain rituals being carried out in public settings such as restaurants or on public transport. Furthermore, it can impede upon performance at work or school due to difficulty concentrating on tasks at hand as well as difficulty meeting deadlines due to distractions caused by compulsions related to perfectionism.

Negative Effects of Anxiety on Mental Health and Well-Being 

The negative effects of anxiety on mental health and well-being can be far-reaching, but the core issue is the same: perfectionism. Perfectionism refers to an individual’s desire to perform perfectly in all aspects of life, often at the expense of their emotional well-being and mental health. If left unchecked, anxiety can lead to feelings of overwhelm and paralyzing self-doubt. It can lead to extreme procrastination due to fear of not achieving perfection and an inability to complete tasks or meet deadlines. Furthermore, as individuals become increasingly stressed from perfectionist tendencies, they may begin to experience physical symptoms such as headaches, insomnia, fatigue, digestive issues, and muscle tension.

In addition, perfectionism coupled with anxiety can result in a decrease in self-esteem due to feelings of never being “good enough” and constant disappointment. Individuals might also start avoiding situations where they could potentially be seen as imperfect out of fear of judgment or criticism from others. This further perpetuates a vicious cycle that only deepens existing anxieties and increases the likelihood that individuals will struggle with mental health problems including depression and other mood disorders. 

Finally, those struggling with perfectionism may also have difficulty forming meaningful relationships due to lack of trust or fear that their flaws will be exposed or judged harshly by others. This can leave individuals feeling isolated or misunderstood which could eventually contribute to worsening mental health issues such as low self-worth or even suicidal ideation if left untreated for too long.  

Myths About Perfectionism

Perfectionism and anxiety can have many myths associated with them, as well as assumptions that people make that are not necessarily true. One myth is that perfectionists always have high self-esteem. While striving for perfection can often lead to a sense of pride in one’s accomplishments, it can also cause significant levels of stress, self-doubt, and even depression if the desired results are not achieved. The idea of being perfect is impossible to actually attain, so perfectionists often feel like failures when things don’t go exactly as planned.

Other harmful assumptions about perfectionism & anxiety may include thinking that setting high standards is a good thing or that it will lead to success. In reality, setting unrealistic expectations can lead to extreme frustration and disappointment if they are not met. Additionally, some people may think that having high standards means they must do everything perfectly in order to be successful; however, this is simply not true. Success requires hard work and dedication but does not mean having to achieve perfection in every single task or activity. 

The key for individuals struggling with these issues is to recognize these myths and assumptions for what they truly are – false beliefs – and instead focus on self-compassion and acceptance. It’s important to remember that mistakes happen and everyone has flaws; everyone deserves grace, understanding, and patience. No one needs to be perfect in order to succeed or be happy – learning from mistakes makes us stronger and more resilient in the long run!

How to Release Yourself From the Grips of Perfectionism & Anxiety

Are you wondering what comes next? If you recognize that you are suffering at the hands of your perfectionism and the resulting anxiety, then there are some steps that you can begin to take to escape perfectionism and start having a more positive and healthy outlook.

Identify Your Triggers

Identifying your triggers is a key step in freeing yourself from perfectionism and anxiety. By understanding what sets off your negative thinking, you can start to recognize the warning signals and prepare yourself for healthier responses.

A few things you can do to identify your triggers include: tracking patterns in your thoughts, monitoring how certain situations make you feel, and being mindful of self-talk. When it comes to recognizing a trigger, it helps to be aware of what’s going on both inside and outside of yourself. Pay attention to body sensations and take note of where they originate from in order to understand their source. Also, keep track of when these feelings flare up or decrease so that you can gain insight into what is causing them.

Understanding your triggers will help you become aware of the warning signs before anxiety takes over—allowing you to pre-emptively create a plan for responding more healthily.

Reframe Your Thinking

Reframing your thinking is a vital step in freeing yourself from perfectionism and anxiety. This can be done by changing the way you look at situations and the beliefs that you have about yourself. Rather than looking at situations in terms of failure or success, reframe them in terms of growth and learning.

Instead of believing that you must be perfect, realize that mistakes are part of the process of learning and growing. Remind yourself to focus on what is most important and to set realistic goals. It’s also important to recognize your self-worth regardless of outcomes or mistakes; our worth does not depend on others’ opinions or accomplishments.

Reframing our thoughts allows us to prioritize our mental health and well-being, setting up healthy expectations for ourselves rather than expecting perfection.

Set Realistic Expectations

Setting realistic expectations is a crucial step in freeing oneself from perfectionism and anxiety. It means that one should be realistic about what they can expect to achieve, and to prioritize manageable goals that are achievable within their current ability and resources. Setting expectations that are achievable serves as a motivator to take action, while setting unrealistic expectations often results in feelings of discouragement and disappointment.

Additionally, it is important to recognize that it is not possible to control all facets of every situation; therefore, sometimes the best course of action is simply to do our best with what we have.

Being able to let go of the need for absolute perfection allows us to focus on the process associated with achieving our goals instead of worrying about the outcome. By setting realistic expectations we can keep our motivation levels high and stay on track with our progress.

Practice Mindful Living

Practicing mindful living is an important step in freeing yourself from perfectionism and anxiety. Mindful living involves deliberately paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and sensations in the present moment, without judging or obsessing over them. This can be done by focusing on your breathing, noticing what is around you, or simply being aware of all that you are experiencing in the moment.

Doing this allows you to gain perspective on how past experiences have affected your current behaviors and beliefs. By engaging in mindful practices each day, you can become more mindful of the thought patterns that perpetuate perfectionist thinking and shift your focus away from those negative thoughts.

Additionally, by observing your own emotions without judgment, it can help reduce stress levels, allowing you to feel more relaxed and in control of your life. With mindful living comes a heightened sense of awareness which will ultimately lead to greater emotional well-being.

Reach Out for Support

Reaching out for support is an important step in freeing yourself from perfectionism and anxiety. It can be beneficial to talk to someone who can relate to your struggles and provide emotional support. Turning to close family, friends, or a professional therapist are a viable option when it comes to seeking help.

Talking with these individuals can help you gain perspective on your situation and allow you to learn coping mechanisms such as relaxation techniques, mindfulness exercises, and guided imagery that will help you manage stress and anxiety.

Furthermore, by talking with someone about your experience you are able to gain insight into the root of the problem and get assistance in developing healthy strategies for dealing with it.

Utilize Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques can be a great way to help free yourself from the grips of perfectionism and anxiety. It is important to learn a few techniques that you can use on a regular basis, such as progressive muscle relaxation, mindful breathing, guided imagery, and meditation. These techniques can provide short-term relief during periods of high stress and anxiety, allowing you to take back control of your thoughts and feelings.

Relaxation techniques also train your body to become more acutely aware of its own signals, making it easier to recognize when your body is tensing up in response to perceived threats. With regular practice, utilizing these relaxation techniques can go a long way in helping you break free from perfectionism and the resulting anxiety.

Using The Calibration Shift to Release Yourself From Perfectionism-Induced Anxiety

If you’ve tried all the other steps, but still continue to circle back around to the troubles that perfectionism faces, then it might be time to work with Michaela Weaver as your coach through the process of overcoming perfectionism and the resulting anxiety.

This is the deep work where the survival mechanisms of ego-mind are transcended, and you step into your natural flow, peace, joy and wisdom.

Through her landmark process, The Calibration Shift, Michaela helps to empower you with a complete shift in perception that you already possess, but haven’t discovered. Clients feel like they have literally woken up to a new mode of operating at a higher level, and the world around them, and relationships reflect that with joy, vitality and a deep inner knowing of peace.


Hi, I'm Michela

I’m a master coach, and someone liberated from limiting narrative, and self-sabotaging coping mechanisms, such as alcohol. I have walked the path. I understand your concerns and fears. Here you will find some of my thoughts and insights. Happy browsing!

Keep me in the loop!

Want more inspiration, knowledge and ideas about alcohol and how to make the changes you want stick? Sign up here to receive more articles and news like this.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.