Anxiety Support

Paralysing perfectionism

I'm curious to know if anyone has heard this expression?

It came up when a lady came to visit to arrange tutoring for my dd. We were talking about her difficulties, she'd obviously spoken to school, and she came out with this phrase which I'd never heard before. We discussed it only briefly but it was a bit of a 'light bulb moment'.

I had talked about her perfectionism years ago when at camhs but it never seemed to make any impression on them, (very little I say does, bloody useless but that's another story). It just seemed such an apt description I wondered why I hadn't heard it before.

Ah well, more to google!

13 Replies

I have never heard of that saying before either but can totally understand what it means. i have heard of the saying "Good Enough" which seems to be the opposite. Interesting.

bev x


Nice to know it's not just me!

Having always told my dd 'just do your best' am now wondering if that is part of the problem, should I have been saying 'that is good enough' instead? *sigh* What to do for the best?


Best is best even if its crap. You can't do more than that. Just do the best you can and that is Good Enough!

Bev x



If I'm understanding this correctly, yes I have heard of this, but not in those exact words. And how true it is.

I've found in myself that trying for perfection, is never achieved and when it is not, I tell myself off, and that causes anxiety.

It can range from simple tasks to big decisions, and is a major part of my disatisfaction with myself.

I do try to be less bothered about things, then something will happen and I realise I've just told myself off again.

"Its good enough" are the words I use to disipate this too.

You are most definately no alone on this score

wishing you well



Yes, part of my anxiety was due to perfectionism, i often wonder what the underlying reason was, my parents were very organised and probably were perfectionists (nurture!). On the other hand was it low self esteem? therefore dreading to be thought of as useless, was it fear of getting into trouble if I made a mistake? Was it of great importance to me what others thought?

I,ve let go a bit now and no longer analyse (another defect)......but now find myself telling my daughters that the percentage you attempt to achieve being perfect is proportional to the anxiety you generate......a 120%,er will have a life of mental turmoil, a 100%,er is good if handled correctly is good, if not linked with common sense and knowing when to let go will also cause some be a 80/90%er and relax..........its hard to let go but the rewards are immense...........


I totally and completely agree stde. Words of wisdom.

Bev x


My mother used to say to me--Good,better,best, Never let it rest, Until that good be better, And that better best.

Messed me up good and proper! xx


interesting...there are connections between perfectionism and anxiety with me, though I wouldn't use the word perfectionism...I have a tendancy to never give myself credit - If someone else had been through the things I have but then achieve the things I have I would not stop praising them, but because it's me it's just o.k, nothing worth shouting about, others do betters ect...


That rings a lot of bells with me too Saabra.



Not heard the phrase before but I can identify with it. For me it's a desire to please, to be the best, to be liked. I now recognise that I have an issue with my self-esteem being dependant on how people perceive me "am I good enough?". I will never be the best or perfect. Ridiculous and unhealthy I know, but it's a neurosis I have to live with.


I think that being best doesn't usually mean being liked. It might mean more respect and regard but being liked no. I have found that being liked depends on many factors - most of all being yourself with all your faults and neurosis. You are ok and we are all ok. Just be the best person in life that you can be and the rest should follow.

Bev x


Totally agree Bev (in my rational mind), and thinking about it, the people I most like and admire are/were far from perfect.


This thread reminded me of a phrase I've heard, I'm not into poetry at all, but looked it up and thought I'd share it...

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

They may not mean to, but they do.

They fill you with the faults they had

And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn

By fools in old-style hats and coats,

Who half the time were soppy-stern

And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.

It deepens like a coastal shelf.

Get out as early as you can,

And don’t have any kids yourself.

Philip Larkin


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