Moral perfectionism – What is It and how it stops us from being successful

Last Update on September 6, 2023 : Published on September 6, 2023

For most people, perfectionism is the way of living; it is the positive quality one must have. But when obsessed with perfectionism and constantly setting high standards for themselves and others, doing more harm than good is definite. When the goals, morals, or ideals you have set are unachieved, you feel inadequate, anxious, frustrated, and unworthy. This not only affects self-esteem and confidence but also ruins relationships.

If you can relate to this or anyone you know who exhibits such behavior, this post will unravel many secrets about moral perfectionism. So, keep reading and realize the bulb-on moments about perfectionism.

Throughout our lifetime, we strive to be our best version. A desire for success, happiness, and fulfillment drives this quest. But if the pursuit is for moral perfectionism, achieving high ethical standards, then? Is it the right approach, or are you setting yourself up for failure and creating roadblocks for yourself on your journey to success?

Let’s find the answer to these questions and understand the concept of moral perfectionism, uncover its impact on success, and bring to light why many of us fall victim to its grip.

What is Moral Perfectionism?

Moral perfectionism is like a never-ending marathon. The closer you think you are to the finish line, the farther it moves. To reach the finish line, the unrealistic expectations and moral standards you set must be maintained. Due to this, you feel the constant pressure and experience anxiety and fear of making even the slightest moral or ethical misstep.

This search for moral excellence, aiming to behave morally with a code of conduct in all spheres of life, is admirable. Still, when it becomes an unattainable quest for faultlessness, it gets emotionally overwhelming.

Individuals who consider themselves moral perfectionists are often caught in the clutches of self-critique, feel inadequate, and feel guilty when unable to reach the set moral ideals. This struggle to reach moral excellence can lead to negative psychological and emotional consequences, such as stress, anxiety, and dissatisfaction.

How Does Moral Perfectionism Affect Your Success?

Perfectionism in any form, whether moral, professional, relationship or to achieve personal goals, significantly impacts a person’s life and affects success. This impact can be both positive and negative. Here, we explain both of them:

Positive Effects:

High Standards: Often, moral perfectionists set high standards and goals that drive them to be exceptional, achieve heights, and stay committed to excellence. It even keeps the motivation high so you can do your best and give more than 100%.

Ethical Conduct: A strong moral compass is the guide to ethical behavior. With it in place, one learns to develop and keep trust and credibility in personal and professional relationships. This moral perfectionism is the path to learning a code of conduct.

Attention to Detail: Moral perfectionists always have a code of conduct and pay attention to minute details so that the quality is not compromised and everything is done with moral ideals and standards.

Motivation: The desire to complete everything ideally is a powerful motivator that helps push boundaries and overcome obstacles. When we are motivated and morally driven, it works well and helps manage all spheres of life.

Drive for Excellence: Moral perfectionists often set high standards for behavior, work, and achievements. This drive for excellence leads to accomplishments and success in areas that align with your values.

Commitment to Ethical Conduct: The commitment to moral ideals results in ethical behavior, appreciated in both personal and professional settings.

Strong Moral Compass: Moral perfectionists have a well-defined and principled moral compass that guides ethical behavior and decision-making, enhancing integrity and trustworthiness.

Negative Effects:

Fear of Moral Failure: A significant drawback of moral perfectionism is the fear of moral failure. This fear is a roadblock as it stops the person from taking risks or making decisions because they think they might fall short of your moral ideals. This avoidance hinders progress and success.

Perpetual Dissatisfaction: Moral perfectionists are hypercritical of themselves. They constantly scrutinize their actions and decisions, leading to a feeling of inadequacy and self-doubt, undermining self-confidence and ability to pursue success.

Rigidity: Committing to high moral standards can lead to inflexibility and an unwillingness to compromise. This rigidity limits the ability to adapt to changing circumstances, collaborate effectively, or consider alternative approaches to problem-solving, preventing individuals from adopting new growth opportunities.

Relationship Strain: Moral perfectionism unrealistic moral expectations can extend to personal relationships, causing strain and conflicts and intolerance for failing to reach the perceived moral compass, leading to strained relationships.

Why Do I Have Moral Perfectionism?

Everyone has some morals and principles that they work with. However, the moral perfectionists are rigid, and they have high standards. But what contributes to this behavior? Here are some factors that might shed light.

Cultural and Societal Pressure: In the name of societal norms, culture, and religion, society often promotes high moral standards and values. This pressure and unrealistic moral ideals make it challenging to resist moral perfectionism, and individuals adopt moral perfectionism to fit in and gain approval.

Upbringing and Values: Family upbringing and personal values also play a crucial role in setting high moral standards. From a young age, when people witness an emphasis on moral values and high ethical standards, they develop moral perfectionism as it is a way to be appreciated and is now internalized.

Fear of Judgment: Individuals try their best to meet societal expectations. The fear of being judged and criticized by others often drives them towards moral perfectionism, as it is a way to avoid negative evaluation.

Desire for Self-Improvement: Some people always look for ways to improve themselves, and this leads to setting high moral standards for themselves. While this is a great way to start, it becomes problematic when this aspiration becomes a compulsion.

Traumatic Experiences: Past traumatic experiences also play a role in shaping moral beliefs and behaviors. When a person has lost a near and dear one due to fault in morals and ethics or has been humiliated, this trauma develops a heightened sense of responsibility and a desire to prevent harm to others, manifesting as moral perfectionism.

Personality Traits: Sometimes, some personality traits, such as conscientiousness and a strong sense of duty, can also make one inclined towards moral perfectionism and adhere to rigorous moral standards.

Social and Peer Influences: Your social circle and peers’ moral values and behaviors can influence your moral beliefs and development. When one wants to fit in a group with a set standard, values, and morals, one builds the same mindset and falls for moral perfectionism.

Moral Perfectionism – A Desire to be successful or stagnant?

Moral perfectionism is good as it helps one live with standards, values, and a code of conduct. But when this desire, instead of driving one on the road to success, pulls them back as they are not living up to the standards is harmful.

Until it inspires you to strive for excellence, it is good, but when this drive leads to dissatisfaction, fear of failure, and a rigid mindset, it impacts lids and well-being.

Therefore, the key to bringing balance is recognizing that imperfection is part of the human experience. Moral perfectionism is good but should be considered, as it will stop you from achieving success. So, break free from the shackles of moral perfectionism, embrace your imperfections, and follow your path to success on your terms.

In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

About The Author

Ayush Yadav
Ayush Yadav

Aayush is a writer, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change and make people aware about the history. He holds a bachelor's in law, lives in the princely state Jaipur and is passionate about helping people in anyway possible. In his spare time, he is usually out with friends and enjoys exploring different facets of life.

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