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Perfectionism can be your biggest enemy—but it’s simple to fix, says mental health author

You might think your perfectionist streak is a reflection of your ambition. Mental health author Morra Aarons-Mele disagrees.

“Perfectionism is anxiety,” Aarons-Mele, host of “The Anxious Achiever” podcast and author of “Hiding in the Bathroom: An Introvert’s Roadmap to Getting Out There (When You’d Rather Stay Home),” tells CNBC Make It.

Too many people think that “if we don’t give 100%, if we’re not perfect, it’s a judgment on us,” she adds. “It’s not about our work. It’s about us and our inherent value.”

Perfectionism among young adults has increased significantly since the 1980s, spurred in part by social media and people’s tendencies to measure themselves against their peers’ success at school and work, found a 2018 American Psychological Association study.

And setting unrealistically high standards for yourself carries an intense mental toll.

“As many as two in five kids and adolescents are perfectionists,” psychologist Kate Rasmussen, who researches child development and perfectionism, told the BBC in 2018. “We’re starting to talk about how it’s heading toward an epidemic and public health issue.”

Unlearning the most painful parts of your perfectionist tendencies can start today, Aarons-Mele says. Here’s how.

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