Zainab Bawa

Zainab Bawa


What are your perfectionism rules- unhelpful thoughts that produce the perfectionism cycle.

Submitted Apr 28, 2021

Perfectionists have rules which they apply to their behaviour. Some of these rules are:

  1. Relentless high standards setting - always setting even more demanding standards.
  2. All or nothing thinking. You have to be 100% perfect.
  3. Fear of failure - I can’t do something until everything related to the task is perfect.
  4. Shoulds and musts - absolute demands.
  5. Constant checking - checking multiple times if a particular task has been done well or not. This is related to fear of failure or all-or-nothing behaviour.
  6. Lack of self-control - you keep checking yourself again and again.

Perfectionism is not an isolated event. It is accompanied by unhelpful thinking. Here are the factors that keep perfectionism going:

  1. High standards - these are achieved are great cost. This is also accompanied by setting the high standards and re-setting these standards. Nothing is good enough for a perfectionist.
  2. Self-criticism and unhelpful thinking styles.
  3. Perfectionism behaviours that reinforce #1 and #2.

This unhelpful thinking causes the perfectionism cycle. Mainly, you base your self-worth is based on achieving high, unrelentless standards. This produces shoulds and must thinking in oneself.

If you have questions about perfectionism, post them in comments on

Tarique Sani’s slides on perfectionism are available on


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