Fear of Imperfection

Everything has a place and we clean up what we mess up. These are great motivational lines that parents use to encourage their children to help create a tidy house. However when the desire for perfection becomes so strong that imperfection is feared Atelophobia is introduced. 

At it’s worst this fear insists perfection not just on a personal level, but from everyone around them. The fear brings about obsessive-compulsive disorders that finds the individual worrying over seemingly insignificant issues. This can be troublesome for friends, but it can also be frustrating for the individual who has atelophobia because they may realize the issue is not especially important, but the fear will not allow them to let the issue drop – even if there is a part of them that really wants to do so.

What Causes Atelophobia

In virtually all cases the cause of the fear in Atelophobes is linked to past feelings of imperfection. There may have been someone in your past that you viewed as authoritative (parent, boss or even friend) who suggested you might never be any good at something. The power of that proclamation may have placed you on track to attempt to prove them wrong. In the process you may be minimizing the importance of what can be learned from failure.

Many times people have no idea how their words will impact you. They might even forget quickly what they said and why. When you replay those words over and over again in your mind it simply intensified your resolve to be perfect. It might also preclude you from being able to forgive the errant words spoken in your past.

This is a dangerous cycle that leads to a vicious cycle of fear.

Signs of Atelophobia

An atelaphobe will obsess over the cleanliness of their home, the perfection of what they wear and how well they do their job. They may also expect everyone in their life to live up to their standards of perfection. This can lead to frustration and in some cases divorce or the breakup of friendships.

Other symptoms include…

  • Panic when the individual cannot intervene to attempt to make things perfect
  • Feelings of dread that others in their past may have been right
  • Elevated heart rate at the sight of imperfection (in themselves – in others)
  • Trembling and muscle tension
  • Inability to reason when fixated on the imperfect

An individual with the fear of imperfection may feel it is their responsibility to make sure everything is perfect. They may make great personal assistants, but their motivation is fear – not just in pleasing their boss.

How to Overcome Your Fear of Imperfection

Therapy is common with this type of fear. The types of available therapy are diverse and include hypnosis, tapping therapy, desensitization therapy, cognitive therapy, support groups and self-help.

An empathetic friend can provide a great boost in mastering the fear you may have. Sometimes recognizing the phobia and being able to talk about it becomes a powerful combination in dealing with the fear.

If you’ve suffered with the fear of imperfection what have you done to help relieve the fears? What has worked best? Were you surprised if this article described you?

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