OCD & perfectionism

The majority of us will hold ourselves to an impossible standard that is difficult to uphold, where we continue to aim for perfection.

Perhaps us having to have things perfect, is our way of saying we’re not good enough, or we’re not perfect. Those thoughts, together with any negative experiences, will sew a seed in our minds that we’re less than perfect, therefore we need to reach or have perfection.

But I don’t think it’s just that. I believe that having OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) contributes towards perfectionism and things having to be perfect. Perfectionism has been strongly linked to OCD where we have a strong desire for things to be done a certain way, or just right.

For example, it is not uncommon to think that unless our compulsion is carried out perfectly, a feared outcome will change the status quo, such as a death of a loved one. Another example, when we begin to question ourselves over things we’ve done, like lock the front door, or turn the cooker off, but we have to go back and check.

Perfectionism is particularly strong where there is a need for things to be done ‘just right’ for them to be considered right and if they’re not done in a certain way, or with certainty. Sadly, perfectionism tends to be high when it involves us having to double-check things.

We may also talk ourselves into feared outcomes if the compulsion isn’t carried out as it should. We may worry that we might have left the door unlocked and that could mean unwanted attention. Checking and re-checking things, sadly reinforces the idea that we’re not perfect, or that we’re losing our mind.

Unhealthy OCD perfectionism may also perpetuate obsessions that we need control over and the cycle continues.


4 Jun, 2018

4 thoughts on “OCD & perfectionism

  1. What a horrible combination these two are, especially when you’re forced to grow up in a world where nothing you ever do is right.

    It ended up driving me insane at times, because I was always second guessing myself to the point of being neurotic. You eventually get to the point where you don’t even want to bother trying to accomplish anything, since nothing you do will ever be good enough.

    My Mother was horrible that way, seeing as she used me as her emotional Teddy bear and liked to ignore me when I wasn’t doing her bidding, or making her happy, which seemed to be impossible.

    I just need to learn how to stop torturing myself for not being perfect since nobody is.

    1. Thanks Randy. Yes, we need to learn to just be okay with things and accept ourselves in a world that is far from perfect.

      When you say, ‘you need to learn how to stop torturing yourself for not being perfect since nobody is.’ You’re absolutely right, but you’re probably not the only one doing it.

      Perhaps we need to think that we’re not perfect and that’s because in a world that is forever changing, nothing ever is.

  2. Perfection is a word we throw around to convince our tiny selves that we’re bigger than we actually are. It admits us into a realm of fantasy, the same way drugs or alcohol does. That hole gets deeper before reality sets in.

    But imperfect is who I am when everyone’s looking and I’m very much okay with that.

    1. Yes, in some cases, reality doesn’t set in; in others cases we sometimes have to hit rock bottom before we slowly clamber back up. But it is your last paragraph that resonates with me the most and to hear you say that is music to my ears.

      Life shouldn’t be about having everything that’s perfect, or for us to be perfect and yet we don’t settle for anything less. In a world that is forever changing, we seem to think we must keep pace and that’s simply not true.

      Not all of us have the ability or know how to do that. We do what we can and others must be okay with that. Perhaps that’s where we’re going wrong.

      Being perfect or having to have things perfect which aren’t perfect, puts the pressure on us mentally and that’s where we become unstuck.

      Perhaps if we were able to accept our imperfections, we’d grapple less with things like OCD and perfectionism. The truth is that in an imperfect world, none of us are perfect.

      Trying to achieve that status is futile. We can never achieve it.

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