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Emotional perfectionism

Emotional perfectionism: “We must always feel happy, joyous and grateful on the inside while striving for perfection on the outside.”

I hadn’t heard this concept until recently, but it resonates.

A term coined by Dr. Annie Hickox, “emotional perfectionism” is characterized by judging our own emotions, and suppressing the emotions we have deemed to be imperfect.

Just like other forms of perfectionism, emotional perfectionism is often borne from a positive desire, one rooted in the wish to protect ourselves and loved ones from the challenges associated with raw, painful emotions.

But so many studies show that, when we don’t allow ourselves to experience negative emotions, we also stifle our ability to experience positive feelings.

One starting point to address “emotional perfectionism”: begin to distinguish between emotions and behaviors. It’s perfectly natural to experience a broad range of emotions; that’s part of the human experience. When we start accepting our emotions for what they are, without labeling them as “good,” “bad,” “perfect,” or “imperfect,” we experience relief, connection and increased openness to positive feelings.

As we do this, we can shift our attention away from judging emotions and toward evaluating behaviors: determining when and how we act on our full range of feelings, as opposed to simply suppressing them.

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