How to Manage Your Perfectionism Anxiety

Posted on Dec 28, 2022
tl;dr: Manage your perfectionism anxiety your way.

Let’s begin here
Perfectionism anxiety is here to stay
Perfectionism anxiety and me
After a while, having perfectionism anxiety around gets boring
5 reasons you can manage your perfectionism anxiety
Helpful links


Because I prefer writing that’s easy to read and understand, I’m drawn toward reading definitions that grade-level readers understand. I found nonexpert definitions for perfectionism and anxiety from Merriam-Webster, my favorite dictionary.

Perfectionism: “a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable especially the setting of unrealistically demanding goals accompanied by a disposition to regard failure to achieve them as unacceptable and a sign of personal worthlessness”

Anxiety: “apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill; a state of being anxious, an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it; mentally distressing concern or interest; a cause of anxiety”

Why is perfectionism linked with anxiety?

Perfectionism can lead to anxiety. I can get obsessed with wanting my content, a portrait, a post to be its best. But what if my content is not my best? What if others think my art sucks or my writing sucks? The more I imagine those scenarios, the more I worry and become anxious.

But managing perfectionism anxiety (PA) is possible. I first discovered PA in high school. I’ve had PA that’s lasted for days, preventing me from writing or drawing.

Managing PA begins with awareness of your tendency toward perfectionism.

The way to self-awareness is through introspection, which means “an examination of one’s thoughts or feelings”.

My friend…care for your psyche…know thyself, for once we know ourselves, we may learn how to care for ourselves.


My PA is better than it was because I understand it now. I know myself now.

I’m not an expert in human psychology or managing personality traits, and I don’t have post-nominals after my last name. 🥱

I’m just an expert at managing my PA, and I realized this four years ago.

Initially, I needed to figure out why I was experiencing PA. I had close friends surrounding me, but I didn’t want to bother them with my self-improvement plan. So, I didn’t confide in them. This wasn’t something I could share with my family since we don’t discuss these things in my family.

The cool thing about having close friends is that they magically and keenly know your shit. And they are compassionate to help you. They help soften your shit with lots of humor and blunt unasked advice like “stop taking yourself too seriously! and “stop worrying about what others think!”

Healthy striving is self-focused: “How can I improve?”
Perfectionism is other-focused: “What will they think?”

Brené Brown

And fortunately, I love reading. So, I read a lot about PA and that I can manage it.


Let’s begin here

When your PA is coming on, write down your thoughts and feelings so you can see them. Writing helps your mind and heart feel lighter by lifting the weight of thoughts and feelings from you. Writing in my journal is ideal for visiting my introspection.

Choose an easy and comfortable writing mode/method:

  • Write on pad paper, notebook, iPhone, Android, iPad, or tablet.
  • Write in preinstalled apps like Notes, available on iPhone and iPad, or Google Keep, available on Android phones.

What if you don’t write and prefer talking about your thoughts and feelings?

  • Record on the preinstalled Voice Memos app available on iPhone and iPad or Smart Recorder on Android phones.
  • Contact a family member, close friend, or healthcare professional.

Perfectionism Chair


Perfectionism anxiety is here to stay

It’s unrealistic to believe that PA will disappear for good once you name and learn to manage it.
PA hovers in the background and unsuspectingly creeps up on you when it knows you’re inviting it in. But you decide whether to have PA stay or leave.

And managing obtrusive PA takes work. So, it would be best to practice introspection.


Perfectionism anxiety and me

I became interested in creating art while I was in grade school. My mom enrolled me in summer art classes. For years I practiced with graphite and colored pencils, pen and ink, charcoal, pastel, oil, and watercolor paints. I needed to be more serious with my craft.

Then it was years since I created art because I pursued other interests.

PA re-introduced itself to me when I became serious about practicing drawing/illustrating in the latter part of 2018; this was when I began posting my art on Instagram (IG).

While posting my art, I felt my completed drawing was imperfect. But my art must be good enough to post, and I mustn’t show my mistakes and line erasures.

IG artists with over 100 posts and over 5K followers posted amazing creations. Their posts would show over 500 likes with many positive comments. Their pieces made me wish to create beautiful art like theirs.

I hoped that I would only measure up to those artists. I worried that people would think my art sucked. I imagined stories where I’d read comments saying my art sucked. I had moments where I was too anxious to create and post on IG.


After a while, having perfectionism anxiety around gets boring

I pondered why and if I was the only one experiencing the above feeling and anxiety.

I soon learned that other artists also experienced what I was experiencing. I felt good knowing I wasn’t the only one. Those artists also thought they needed to be more confident about their artistic abilities. They felt their art was not good enough to share, feared they wouldn’t measure up to other artists with N+ posts/N+ followers/N+ likes, and worried that people on their social media platforms would think their art sucked. They, too, were too anxious to create and post.

I grew tired of feeling my work was imperfect, comparing myself to other artists, worrying about what others thought of me, and feeling anxious that I wasn’t good enough.


5 reasons you can manage your perfectionism anxiety

  1. It’s your choice, and you decide for PA to stay or leave.
    Do you want to feel calmer, happier, lighter, and consistently create content?
    Then take the PA weight off you. Let it go.
  2. You’re your best friend.
    You might decide to let PA stay. Your decision is okay but only allow them at most to lounge around for a day.
    Imperfection is okay. Don’t undervalue it.
    Practice giving kindness to yourself. Self-kindness is good medicine and a powerful remedy for PA.
  3. When you feel like PA won’t leave, steady yourself.
    Take a couple of deep breaths.
    It’s okay to feel PA’s presence.
    Acknowledge by writing or talking about your thoughts and feelings, then let them go.
  4. Know that you are not alone because other people worldwide are also experiencing PA.
  5. You control your thoughts, choices, and behavior toward PA.
    But you can’t control how others see, think, and feel about you and what you do.



Now that you know that managing PA is possible don’t let having PA bother you. Keep practicing introspection.

Stop comparing yourself to other people. And fuck the social media platform follows likes and comments. Your quality work is not based on uncontrollable factors but on your standard.

Remember, accomplished artists/content creators experience PA, too.

I’m a recovering perfectionist and an aspiring “good-enoughist.”

Brené Brown


Perfectionism by David Heitz

Why Perfectionism and Anxiety Disorders Go Hand in Hand by Elisabet Kvarnstrom

The Difference Between Perfectionism and Perfection by Helen Cassidy Page

5 Ways to Turn Perfectionism Into A Strength (And Achieve Excellence Without Burning Out)


Adaptive and maladaptive perfectionism: developmental origins and association with depression proneness by Murray W. Enns, Brian J. Cox, Ian Clara

Perfectionism and Anxiety Often Go Hand-in-Hand: Here’s Why by Sonya Matejko


Thank you for reading!

Please share this article with your family and friends.

Follow me on Instagram 😁