Perfectionism: Can Toxic Shame Cause Perfectionism?

By Oliver JR Cooper in Affirmation, Attention, Awareness, anxiety, attitude on December 1st, 2014 / No Comments

There are things that are around today that are seen as being perfect but as time passes, they will be seen as imperfect. And this is how life has always been and something that will continue to take place.

What this shows is how life doesn’t stand still and that there is always something new or different waiting to be revealed. When something is new or different, it could be seen as better and as the next step.

But while this can be the case, if it wasn’t for what took place before the ‘next step’ arrived, it wouldn’t be able to appear. This shows that it’s not that the previous step or the creation is imperfect; it is that it was just another step.

A Label

To say that something is perfect or imperfect is simply a label that human beings use to describe things that don’t match up to a certain requirement. If something was created and didn’t need to be altered or changed, then it would be perfect.

But in reality, this is not how it works; that is unless one is referring to nature. A tree for instance is not seen as imperfect, it is accepted for what it is. It is also likely that the tree doesn’t think about how it needs to change or to be something else – it is able to just be.

The Best Version

So when something is put together, it is often the best possible version based on what the people know who have put it together. And as time goes by they will see things differently and gain a new understanding; as a result of this, what they have created externally will change.

The alternative would be to do nothing and to wait until everything is ‘perfect’. However, if they were to do this, they would never do anything and there would be no progress. Not only does this apply to organisations or companies, it also applies to individuals.

A Process

What this comes down to is how life is a process and not something that comes to an end once something has taken place (that is unless the world was to come to an end, but then there might be something else). This means that once something has been created it won’t be long until it will need to be altered in some way or completely changed.

With this in mind, perfection is nothing more than an illusion and has no basis in reality. Once something has been created, it will soon be replaced by something else and this is how life works. In each moment, one is doing the best they can with what they know.


When one realises that perfection doesn’t exist they are not going to feel the need to get everything right. This will allow them to work hard at something and to try new things without setting themselves up to suffer unnecessarily.

If something does go wrong, it will be seen as something they need to work on and that it’s not the end of the world. But if one believes that they need to get everything right, when someone does go wrong it could be taken to heart.


So the first person realises that they will make mistakes and that not everything will go to plan. This is something they are able to accept as they dont feel the need to be perfect. They are only human after all and this means they are not perfect.

When it comes to the person who believes they need to get everything right, they will not want to make mistakes. To do so will be a sign that they are not perfect and in their model of the world being perfect is the only option


They will feel the need to be perfect and to get everything right. This is going to stop them from taking action and if they do make a mistake, they could end up hiding it from others. One way this can take place is through procrastination and while one won’t be able to move forward, they will be able to avoid feeling ‘imperfect’ for a short while.

Even though being perfect is an illusion, they are likely to see some people as being perfect and as having it all together. And this can then cause one to feel even worse and increase their need to be perfect. One could also become a workaholic in order to match up to others and to stop people from noticing their ‘flaws’.

Two Choices

When it comes to people who feel the need to be perfect, they will either have to face up to the fact that they are imperfect or they can do everything they can to be perfect. Whereas, when it comes to the people who don’t feel the need to be perfect, they are not going to experience life in this way.

They are simply human and the need to get everything right or to always look right is not going to enter their mind. So if one feels the need to be perfect it shows that they feel flawed and being perfect is the only way for them to change how they feel about themselves.

Toxic Shame

The reason one views themselves as flawed can be a sign that they are carrying toxic shame. There is healthy shame and this is part of having a conscience, and then there is toxic shame and this causes one to feel less-than human.

One doesn’t just feel bad, they are bad and it is who they are. And as they feel flawed, it can cause them to do everything they can to come across as being the opposite of how they feel. To them, it is only possible for them to feel less-than others or to do everything they can to come across as being more-than others.


Toxic shame can be the result of childhood abuse and this can be verbal, physical, emotional and/or sexual. And even though the years have passed, the emotional experiences of the past will have remained in their body.

So these will need to be faced and released and this takes place, one will begin to feel human once more or perhaps for the first time. The assistance of a therapist or a healer may be required.


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