Dealing with Atellophobia in Today’s Digital World


In today’s digital world, where all spheres of life occur online and in plain view, perfectionism breaks new ground:

While they encourage authenticity and diversity, some people still experience a terrifying fear of imperfection. Known as atelophobia, paralyzes them from actions, kills digital productivity, or (even worse) makes them talk a good game about your skills, income, and credentials.

In other words, these people sweeten reality online. And it’s not because they want to mislead subscribers, business partners, or potential future employers. (Although these cases happen quite frequently for sure). Instead, it can happen because of your irrational fear (phobia) of looking imperfect in the eyes of others.

The other side of the coin is that atelophobia causes people to avoid social and professional activity in the digital world, thus preventing growth and success. They are afraid of looking bad, doing or saying something bad, so they choose to keep quiet and do nothing instead of failing. It causes tons of emotional distress and anxiety.

So, it seems that atelophobia can not only decrease our life and well-being, but it can also weaken our health, influencing both physical and mental conditions. These are some of its causes and symptoms, as well as tips to overcome them in the digital world when it is almost impossible to live one productive life no online presence.

What is atelophobia?

In simple terms, atelophobia is the fear of imperfection in oneself. Some may refer to it as perfectionism, but psychologists and psychoanalysts specify that it is a irrational fear of looking imperfect or making a mistake. Atelophobia makes us feel like everything we do is wrong, “encouraging” us to quit tasks, avoid conversations and challenges, and choose a low-stimulus environment over the risk of failure.

Atelophobia does not go hand in hand with mental conditions such as obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety disorder, or others. Also, it has nothing to do with character traits like introversion or shyness, for example.

Unlike other phobias, where external objects or situations are triggered, the stimulus for atelophobia comes from within. For example, let’s say I am afraid of spiders, then I know that all I can do to avoid this phobia is to stay away from them. But if I fear my possible flaws, I carry this fear with me everywhere and I cannot avoid an anxiety response anyway.

The point I’m trying to get home:

Atelophobia is quite difficult to diagnose, and its symptoms may be considered by some to be just another personality trait. That is not like that. We must be aware of this disorder and treat it if necessary to prevent its harmful effects on health.

Three symptoms that an atelophobe may be

Atelophobia has both physical and psychological symptoms. The former include:

  • headache
  • muscle tension
  • perspiration
  • dry mouth
  • stomach ache
  • shake
  • hyperventilation
  • nausea

As for the latter, psychological, the symptoms are as follows:

  • lack of concentration
  • delay
  • feelings of helplessness
  • avoidance
  • extreme anxiety and dread
  • seeking comfort
  • over-reviewing your work for errors
  • indecision
  • fear of losing control

Indeed, you can’t stick the “I’m atellophobic” label every time you feel stressed and physically weak. Just be aware of their behavior and try to use their emotional intelligence, components of self-awareness and self-reflection in particular. In doing so, you may notice the following three symptoms:

1. Your impossible standards

Is your motto something like “Would I rather do nothing than do it wrong?” Have you mastered all the creative ways to avoid tasks and situations that scare you? Do you often procrastinate at work, waiting for a better time to complete the job and meet your quality standards? Looking for bugs all the time?

Huge self-imposed demands can be a symptom of atelophobia. Although self-criticism is fine to practice from time to time, applying your impossible standards to all kinds of situations and putting them off can lead to work and personal problems.

2. Your terrible fear of flaws

Many people are afraid of making mistakes, but there is a big difference between getting nervous but continuing to do so and skipping a situation completely in a panic. If the latter is your case, you have a problem.

Try to understand how strong your response to the thought of imperfection is. Are you able to face it and face it when necessary? Of course, you may not like public speaking and become nervous about it; But it is not your nature, but atelophobia that makes you give it up and run in a panic and fear that you may fail.

3. Your escape from everyday tasks

It can be difficult for some people to make a phone call or talk to other people because they are shy. But it is not shyness that prevents them write an email to teachers, a business message for a colleague, or a book publication: drafts will never look good enough for them, and they may spend days or months thinking about how they could write them better.

Another example:

You avoid cleaning your room because you know it won’t be clean enough anyway. You run away from meeting a friend from college because you judge yourself for not being good enough after graduation.

Causes of atelophobia and health problems it brings

This disorder can be biological, which means that it is your genetic propensity to be so sensitive and perfectionist. But most of the time, it is the result of some traumatic experiences from childhood or adolescence.

Let’s say my parents were too demanding and demanded perfection of me, encouraging only the highest grades. Or I faced harsh criticism from teachers and negative comments from my peers at school. Any of those situations could become a trigger. After all, no one taught me to tolerate and accept imperfection.

People who compare themselves to others all the time are also prone to atelophobia. It’s especially true in the digital world, where we see “successful” people everywhere on social media, applying their success to ourselves. Of course, it is okay to have a mentor or role model to inspire you and stimulate your personal growth; but moderation is everything here. The constant desire to compare ourselves with others is discouraging. After all, there will always be someone better than us.

Atelophobia brings numerous health problems, leading to headaches, heart attacks, respiratory problems, weakened immune system, skin problems such as dehydration and eczema, decreased sexual desire, and more.

Seeking extreme perfection in today’s fast-changing digital world can lead to sleep disturbances and memory problems. But apart from physical health, this anxiety destroys our productivity, progress and success: redoing everything all the time in the hope of better results or quitting work because it is “not perfect enough”, we are never satisfied and we do not. complete anything.

Can we do something with it?

Atelophobia is not that easy to overcome. As with other phobias, you need treatment such as psychotherapy. A specialist helps us relax and let the blemish come into our lives.

Exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy are two things that can help you deal with this phobia or, at least, tame its influence. The first helps to face fears and adapt the mind to react less aggressively; the latter modifies our negative thinking patterns and behaviors.

Energy psychology, meditation, and group therapy can also help overcome atelophobia.

To carry out

Atelophobia, alias The irrational fear of imperfection in oneself can damage personal and professional life, physical and mental health and general well-being. Your appearance does not depend on a personality type. But for people with particular inherent qualities, it can become a bigger problem as they can dismiss it for some common character traits and ignore it.

That is why it is essential to be aware of this problem, listen to our inner being and do not hesitate to ask for professional help when necessary. Psychotherapy and meditation can help control atelophobia well.

Image credit: digital-world-atelophobia; Thank you!

Lesley Vos

Lesley is an experienced web writer, specializing in copywriting and sales narrative. Currently blogging on Bid4Papers, also contributes to publications on business, marketing and personal growth. Follow @LesleyVos on Twitter to see more of her work.


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