What is Emotional Perfectionism and How to Cope with it

Quite often, we hear the term toxic positivity. We strive to remain happy 24/7, but is that a healthy thing to do?

There’s nothing wrong with having high expectations in life. Having set goals and working continuously on improving yourself shows that you have a solid sense of self-awareness. However, looking over my social media news feed, I noticed lately how we keep seeing quotes and inspirational messages that often “pressure” us to be happy all the time, which is not how it should be. But I started looking up more information related to toxic positivity and encountered the term “emotional perfectionism.”


What is it?

As an article in Washington Post has phrased it, while toxic positivity has to do with people who constantly encourage others to feel positive, emotional perfectionists hold themselves accountable to a high standard regarding how good they feel. “Rather than encouraging others to look on the bright side (toxic positivity), they expect themselves to be unfailingly upbeat.” – Washington Post adds.

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We have a lot of emotional perfectionists surrounding us, and there’s a very thin line that divides genuine, positive, and realistic expectations from the ones that are perfectionists. For instance, you can understand which side you are on depending on how you deal with your emotions. When something bothers you and impacts you at a personal level – do you deny your feelings and consist that “you shouldn’t care,” “you shouldn’t be sad,” or do you tend to minimize things that happen to you, pursuing the idea of how a “strong” person should behave. If the answer is yes, you better try to slow down and check yourself inwards.


But how to do it? How to cope with emotional perfectionism?

Please keep in mind that emotions and feelings are diverse. They come in waves, and they hit us differently, depending on our situations, circumstances, or moods. Sometimes the causes of our emotional disbalance are external, and sometimes they are internal – meaning we can be our source of sadness too.

But you must consider the language you use towards yourself when what we call “negative” feelings set in. Try to become aware of what you are feeling and how you are feeling. Identify the ways people and certain situations impact your well-being, and simply let your emotions flow. I’m not saying you should try to do something fun instead and forget the melancholy that has captured you for a little while. Because processing your feelings is extremely important to your well-being. But don’t minimize how you feel. Don’t keep seeking adrenaline and good-feelingness only because you may end up drained in the long run.

I wonder if we will ever realize that happiness is not a constant state of mind. We should be grateful for times of sadness and grief. Or else, how are we to develop empathy and depth-love for our fellow human beings who experience the same!


Photo: Ariya J/Shutterstock


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