Do you feel like what you accomplish is never good enough? Do you feel you must give more than 100% on everything you do or else you are a failure? Do you strive to be the best student? In other words, do you strive to be perfect? What you might not be realizing is that perfectionism is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can be self-motivating and drive us to overcome difficult times and achieve success. On the other hand, perfectionism can get in the way of living our lives to the fullest, leading to an enduring path to unhappiness.

While perfectionism may look like striving to be best, it is really about trying to control the perception of others, often to avoid feelings of failure and shame. Perfectionistic tendencies are also often accompanied by patterns of harsh self-criticism. Self-criticism increases fear of failure and performance anxiety, and decreases motivation to pursue difficult tasks.

Here are two ways you can challenge your own perfectionism:

  1. Healthy striving means setting standards that are realistic, individually defined and growth oriented.
  2. Self-compassion can help to alleviate our self-critical voice while still holding ourselves accountable to grow and learn from failure. How we relate to ourselves matters, particularly during stressful and difficult times. It is important to remind ourselves that our imperfections and struggles connect us to each other and to our humanity.

Do you wish to learn more about your own perfectionist tendencies and learn additional strategies to break the trap of perfectionism? The Counseling Center has you covered with a weekly workshop, titled “Progress…Not Perfektion” beginning Tues., March 21 at 4 p.m. If interested, please call 610-330-5005 or email at to register.

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