Why perfectionism is the ultimate buzz-kill

Back-lit sign with the words "you are enough" written on it in black letters

Perfectionism is the ultimate buzz-kill

Perfectionism stifles our joy, creativity and our relationships with others. The cost of perfectionism makes us exhausted, lonely and empty. So why do we let it run us?

Because perfectionism is a defence strategy that protects you from feeling judgement, criticism, blame and worst of all – shame.

What’s more, perfectionism creates distance in relationships, keeping you separate and lonely. 

Last weekend I totally c*cked up a student flamenco dance performance. I moved the wrong way and caused a domino effect, freaking other people out. I was distraught before we’d even walked off the stage, but the kindness of my fellow dancers stopped me from spiralling down into shame. Listen to the podcast to find out how Perfectionism might be limiting you (and how I messed up on stage!)

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Perfectionism might be a defence strategy you employed in your family

I stayed with my family in the UK last summer, and I can see how perfectionism affects us all in different ways. Sucking time, smothering joy. 

One person will taken an entire week to paint a bedroom so that it is absolutely ‘perfect’.  The other will get upset if they think their cooking wasn’t worthy of winning Masterchef.

For you, perfectionism may have been a way of keeping you safe from judgement, criticism or blame.

Perfectionism might have been a way that younger you found to get love and attention from your parents:  ‘If I’m perfect then I’m lovable.’


The ‘perfect’ daughter doesn’t exist

Photo of Sarah Tuckett and her father beside a canal

This holiday I find myself worrying if I am spending enough time with my Alzheimer’s-addled father (at the expense of having fun with everyone else). 

The ‘perfectionist daughter’ part of me thinks I should have martyrd myself and spent every minute with him so that he will not judge me as selfish or unloving.  Ironically, he wouldn’t actually remember anyway.  So I’m just making myself feel bad for nothing!

I don’t have to be the perfect daughter. I just have to be the ‘good enough’ daughter. 

And the same goes for you.


Perfectionism creates distance in relationships

Having to be ‘perfect’ in relationships actually creates distance. It keeps you separate.  It makes you feel lonely even when you are surrounded by others.

What cost does perfectionism have on your relationships?

Does it keep you distant?

Do you feel like you have to keep up a certain image?


Perfectionism stops you from doing new things or trying things differently

Fear of being judged a failure, or as not good enough can stop you from trying new things. New jobs. New hobbies.

What would you try? What would you do if you didn’t have to be perfect at it?

Perhaps you could give yourself a bit of wiggle room to f*** up a little.


Perfectionism is a barrier to feeling ‘enough’

Good enough as a parent. Good enough at your job. Good enough at your hobbies.


Perfectionism is an energy drain

How much time and energy do you invest in doing something ‘perfectly’?  (Consider my family member spending a week painting the bedroom). 

What do you do that saps all your energy, leaving no time, energy, money for the fun stuff that fills you with joy?


Let’s aim for excellence instead of perfection

Or mediocrity, or awesomeness.  Just anything other than ‘perfect’. Perfectionism is not attainable and the cost of trying is too high.



So let’s give perfectionism the sack and go out there and be imperfectly amazing.


Because I bet you already are…


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