How to Manage Your Perfectionism Anxiety

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

Updated 14 August 2023.

1 Dictionary definitions of perfectionism and anxiety
2 Simple definitions
3 I can help myself
Let’s begin here
Perfectionism anxiety is here to stay
My perfectionism anxiety story
After a while, having perfectionism anxiety around gets boring
5 reasons you can manage your perfectionism anxiety
Helpful links


I like easy-to-read and easy-to-understand writing.

So I found and listed below nonexpert definitions for perfectionism and anxiety from Merriam-Webster, my favorite dictionary.

Dictionary definitions of perfectionism and anxiety

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 strong desire sometimes mixed with doubt, fear, or uneasiness.”

Simple definitions

Perfectionism is when you set very high standards for yourself and feel like you have to be perfect in everything you do.

As a perfectionist, you often feel like you can’t make mistakes, and you might be very critical of yourself if you do.

Anxiety is when you’re feeling worrisome. It’s like feeling scared that something might happen, but you don’t know what that something is.

Sometimes, anxiety can be so intense that it can make it hard to do things you want.

Why is perfectionism linked with anxiety?

Perfectionism can lead to anxiety.

I can get obsessed with working on my content, so it’s the best illustration or post, but what if it could be better?

What if others think my art sucks or my writing sucks?

The more I think, the more I worry and become anxious.

I can help myself

Self-managing perfectionism anxiety (PA) is possible.

I first discovered PA in high school. I’ve had PA that’s lasted for days, sometimes weeks, preventing me from writing or drawing.

Managing PA begins with awareness of my 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.


I manage my PA better now because I understand and know myself better.

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.

Figure out why

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 issues. So, I didn’t confide in them. PA was something other than what I could share with my family since we don’t discuss these things.

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 problems with lots of humor and blunt advice, like stop taking yourself too seriously and worrying about what others think.

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

Brené Brown

Read about it

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


Let’s begin here

Write it down

When my PA would come on, I’d write my thoughts and feelings so I could see them.

Writing helps my mind and heart feel lighter. Transferring my thoughts and feelings to a page lifts their weight off me. Writing in my journal is helpful for 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 mental health professional.

Perfectionism Chair


Perfectionism anxiety is here to stay

It’s unrealistic to believe that PA will disappear for good after we recognize and learn to manage it.

PA hovers in the background and unsuspectingly creeps up, and managing obtrusive PA takes work, so it’s best to practice introspection.


My perfectionism anxiety story

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 take my craft seriously.

Then, I put creating art aside and pursued other interests.

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

While posting my art, I felt my completed drawing was imperfect, and 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 incredible creations. Their art would show over 500 likes with many positive comments. Their pieces made me wish to create beautiful art like theirs and compare myself to them.

I had 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 PA.

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 X number of posts, followers, and 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 creations were 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 PA at most to lounge around for a day.
    Imperfection is okay. Don’t undervalue it.
    Practice 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 PA 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 by yourself 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.

Base your quality work on your standard and what you control.

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


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