In a world that values success, achievement and unrelenting self-improvement, perfectionism often masquerades as a positive trait. But what if I told you that the relentless pursuit of perfection might, in fact, be holding you back?

Perfectionism is not simply a drive for excellence but a relentless pursuit of an unattainable ideal.

The Core Of Perfectionism

Perfectionism is often misunderstood as simply having high standards but it goes beyond that. While perfectionists do set high standards for themselves, these standards are often impossibly high and unattainable. They believe that any deviation from these standards is a sign of deep personal failure.

Perfectionists have an intense fear of vulnerability. Vulnerability is all about showing up and being seen. Perfectionists fear being judged, criticised or rejected and often stems from a desire to appear comptetent, capable and in control at all times. Underlying this fear of vulnerability, is a  deep rooted core belief that they are not good enough as they are. They try to shield themselves from criticism or failure and as a result strive for flawlessness because they fear that any imperfection will expose their inherent inadequacy.

As a result, many perfectionists attach their self-worth to their productivity and their high standards rather than for who they are truly are. Consequently, this creates a negative cycle as they will inevitably fail to meet their unattainable standards (by perhaps making a mistake). This leads them to feeling vulnerable, shameful and self-critical which bring us back to the beginning of the cycle. The relentless pursuit of perfection to avoid this vulnerability and to achieve a sense of self-worth.

What does this look like and how can it hold us back? in terms of our careers?


1) Procrastination:

Perfectionists tend to delay taking action because they fear making mistakes or producing work that falls short of their impossibly high standards. It might be hesitating to apply for a promotion or new job, or postponing the launch of a project. It prevents us from reaching our full potential

2) Stifled creativity and innovation:

When we constantly strive for flawlessness, we become afraid of taking risks and experimenting with new ideas. This fear of failure limits our ability to think outside the box and hampers our creative problem-solving skills.

3) Impaired decision making and over-thinking:

Perfectionists often struggle with decision-making due to their tendency to overanalyse and overthink every choice. The fear of making the wrong decision paralyses them, leading to indecisiveness and missed opportunities.

These are just three examples of how perfectionism can hold us back from achieving success and reaching our true potential.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change” — Brené Brown


How to overcome perfectionism: EMDR-informed coaching

Overcoming perfectionism requires a profound shift in mindset, one that directly addresses the deeply ingrained belief of not being good enough. It’s essential to recognise that self-worth is not contingent on perfection, and that it’s entirely okay to have imperfections, make mistakes, and learn from them.  Challenging and embracing the belief that you are inherently valuable, irrespective of accomplishments or perceived flaws, is the first step in dismantling the destructive cycle of perfectionism.

This is where EMDR-informed coaching comes in. EMDR-informed coaching offers a powerful approach to address the complex issues of perfectionism and the deeply rooted core belief of not feeling good enough. Together we can make sense of your perfectionistic tendencies and trace them back to your earlier experiences.

Through a structured and guided process, we can reprocess these experiences and replace negative self-beliefs with more positive and constructive ones. This reframing work can lead to a profound transformation in how you perceive yourself, ultimately fostering self-acceptance, self-compassion, and self-worth.

Dr Hannah Bryan

Hi, I am Dr Hannah Bryan, thanks for reading my blog.

I am a Chartered Clinical Psychologist and a Europe Accredited EMDR Facilitator and Consultant.

I have over 20 years experience in both the NHS and private practice.

Like you, I am only human and I have had my hard timesI have got many blocking beliefs that at times hold me back from me realising my potential and being my best. 

EMDR incorporated with coaching has helped me work things through and be in a position now where I have a thriving and inspiring psychology practice. It’s always a journey and I’m always working on my blocks, my mental health and my well being.

As well as coaching, I also provide psychological therapy and support other therapists training in EMDR. I am a Facilitator on training courses and offer specific supervision packages and training to support this. Click here to book a free 15 minute coffee chat with me to see if I can be of help to you.