Perfectionism and Chronic Pain

Remind yourself that it is okay not to be perfect. There is a huge correlation between people with chronic pain and perfectionism. I, myself was not a perfectionist until after my bike accident which later resulted in chronic pain. I have a theory about this correlation. People with chronic pain are stuck inside their bodies feeling pain non stop. Most people you will meet with chronic pain unfortunately do not have a good handle on their pain and live most of their days focusing non stop on their pain. The pain is out of their control. I know this because I lived like this for a third of my life. People with chronic pain see multiple doctors, specialists, have surgeries, and try every medication possible to relieve some of their pain. When no answers come, as they never did for me they feel out of control. We find something we can control which leads many of us to perfectionism. It may be looks and weight, grades in school, or being at the top of their profession. I have met so many people of every age and each one of them was a perfectionist in one part of their life. Now, I understand why.

I am a woman who graduated with a 4.0 in college, used to utilize the gym too much, and always wanted to be the best in everything I did. I have had to let a lot of my perfectionism go. Why? Because trying all the time to be perfect in any aspect in your life is not only impossible but also very detrimental to one’s health: chronic pain or not. People on the outside looking in may see me as a perfectionist. I run most mornings, practice yoga, like my house clean, like to eat and feed my daughter healthy food, and try to look good each day. However, these are things I do because they are part of my chronic pain management and because they make me happy. I love running, yoga, keeping a clean home, eating well, and looking good. Even when my chronic pain is really bad I try to always shower, dry my hair, and if I wore makeup I am sure I would put that on as well. I believe in the concept: Act and look the way you want to feel. I do not want to look good for anyone else but myself.

I still have some perfectionism in me now but nothing like before. I learned that wanting to be perfect in each aspect of my life only increased my pain levels. The only thing I try and be perfect at is my management of chronic pain which is really a catch twenty-two. There is not such thing as perfect. We all have to remember, whether we have chronic pain or not that the most important thing is to be happy and healthy, both mentally and physically. It is very difficult to be happy or healthy when one is trying to be perfect. Who the hell wants to be perfect anyways? I would rather just be human. My favorite things about the one’s I love are their imperfections, especially when they are very comfortable with those imperfections.


Perfectionism and Chronic Pain