The Dark Side of Perfectionism


Before I begin, I’d like to say that there is a much darker side of perfectionism that leads to problems such as addiction and eating disorders. If this is the case for you then please seek the help that you need as soon as you can.

Life coaching helps people who are generally coping with things in their everyday lives and it is for this audience that this piece is intended.

It was the perfect wedding.

It was the perfect party.

She performed perfectly in the interview.

Perfect couple.

Ideal house.

Best in class.


Perfect repast.

All of these would create pictures worthy of an instagram feed with hungry followers ready to devour the morsels of perfection served up to them.

All of these are culmination of what has gone before for the individual involved and starting points for all that will go after. They are moments in time.

In each of them there is no complete perfection as even on a perfect wedding day a drop of a raindrop or a tear may have fallen.

I am SO proud. At the weekend my flat-coated retriever won best in show at a countryside fair. My perfectionist side welled with pride. I loved his pretty red rosette and the tin of biscuits he won. This was a glory day in a life that is 11 years long so far.

I love him for all his imperfection too. He was never the top of the class boy in training classes, always deciding whether he felt like doing what he was asked. He is a stealer of a pie (chicken and leek with puff pastry topping) at a farmer’s market and even at 11 still a fun filled sock-stealing mischief maker. I think his imperfection helps make him the perfect dog for me as he has been my teacher that life with a ‘perfect’ dog would not have been so colourful. I used to find it a distraction when he sang when I played scales on the piano and now I love it. A minor is his favourite.

I realised that I had been saying to my daughter that ‘nothing is ever really perfect.’ Then I realised that there is a down side to the denial of perfection. She is perfect for me. The ones we love are perfect for us, even when they have grumpy days.

So there can be a kind of perfection that is a complete and utter gratitude for what we have with an understanding that what is perfect for us can also include room for some and sometimes a lot of failure.

If we go for perfect at all costs it’s possible to meet with the dark side of perfection. The dark side of perfection is where all that matters is appearance and performance. These things come to matter even if your soul is dying and you have to move your morals to one side.

It’s the drive for perfectionism that leads an athlete to find alternative ways of enhancing performance. It’s the drive for perfection that leads a mother to make her child’s picture look neater in the craft club.

If you are focused on a perfect image and don’t allow your humanity to show, you never let other people really know you.

[bctt tweet=”For the real secret is that we are all flawed, all human and all have our problems, even if we don’t like to admit to them.” username=”DeborahChalk1″]

Perfectionism can put you under extreme and never ending pressure. Life becomes a never ending game of Donkey Kong, where there is always another level to be conquered.

There is nothing wrong with a beautiful party, created thoughtfully and for the process in that creation to have been frantic. A fashion show aims for perfection on the runway brought to creation back a backstage whirl of pressure and action. These are moments in time, created with great effort and often with teamwork.

A piece of art, a novel, an architectural gem – all are imperfect and that is part of their perfection. A woman’s body frame might go in and out of fashion and yet she can remain perfect in her imperfection.

Perfectionism leads us to compare mercilessly and to rank and grade our life in comparison to all the different media we come across each day. We land ourselves on a see-saw of comparison- one minute up with triumph and the next minute dejected as we realise that something isn’t going as we want it to.

When you attempt to be wholly perfect you buff and scrub and hone your existence into a controlled charade.

Don’t you deserve more than that?

If you want to find out more about your own kind of perfectionism you can download the new guide on the ’12 Kinds of Perfectionism’ by signing up for updates on this website.

If you’d like some help with balancing the perfect with the imperfect and being ‘real’ in a velveteen rabbit sort of way then head over to the Coach With Me page on this website.