Atelophobia: definition, pronunciation, symptoms, how overcome it

Atelophobia: definition, pronunciation, symptoms, how overcome it

Atelophobia refers to a fear of one's imperfections. This is a subconscious fear that manifests over time. The reality is that different people have varied fears that come off as difficulty in breathing, inability to talk and even walk. This kind of fear can be intimidating especially for people who do not understand it. When this happens, it pays to learn everything there is about it and come up with solutions.

Source: UGC

Atelophobia is the fear that makes you worry about not being your best. You tend to be constantly worried about your inability to achieve your best. There are people whose focus on perfection makes them stand out, but when it is overdone, they tend to be pushed into a world of their own. Any slight mistake can cause them panic attacks as they believe that they are not good enough.

Atelophobia definition

The definition of atelophobia is given in different ways. First, it is said to be an obsessive fear of one’s own inner imperfection. A different definition says that it is any fear of one’s own internal imperfection caused by painful memories. The bottom line is that this is a fear of not being good enough, and striving to stand out.

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What is an Atelophobia?

What is atelophobia, you may ask? As defined above, this kind of fear manifests itself as an extreme kind of fear that makes someone feel inadequate when they cannot achieve certain things. Simply put, it is the pathological fear of one’s own imperfection.

Fortunately, it appears to be an issue that comes often during a certain stage of life. Most teenagers and adolescents are affected by it because they are probably at the stage of self-awareness. Kids that seem to suffer this kind of phobia are those that come from families where parents tend to pamper and over please their kids, without any scolding for wrongdoing. Such children grow up to expect perfection in their lives, that anything going wrong could affect their well-being. In extreme cases, they even get depressed.

What are the symptoms of Atelophobia?

fear of imperfection
Source: UGC

With atelophobia meaning above, it is possible to know whether or not you are suffering from this kind of phobia. It is different from perfectionism because it consumes you and takes over your entire mindset. However, it is possible to confuse or overlook the disease. If you want to tell, whether or not you have it, then you should consider the following examples.

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1. You are always scared of flaws

The first sign that you may be seriously affected by this kind of fear is when you are afraid of making mistakes. It is possible for you to lock yourself out of certain things just because you are afraid to deal with issues because they may not work out perfectly. The idea of not excelling or making a mistake scares you off. You prefer staying away from the task that have potential of failure, rather than try and fail.

2. You tend to set standards that are impossible

Your fear makes you unrealistic, especially when it comes to setting goals. Instead of doing what most people would, you choose to set your goals too high and make it impossible to achieve. This is because you are too critical of your work, and will always look to find fault even where none exist.

3. You run away from situations that expose you to making mistakes

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You are one of those people that would avoid going to places or doing things tat could expose them to possible failure. However, these people should not be confused with those suffering from social phobia. While social phobia is about the fear of other people's judgment, atelophobia is all about the fear of self-judgement.

4. Expert in avoiding things

If you have met someone who would rather avoid something than do it poorly, then they most likely suffer from this kind of fear. In such cases, these people will be experts in finding and giving excuses of why they would not do something. Due to this belief and mindset, they tend to cause a lot of problems at the workplace. When something is not done according to their standards, they would prefer to be left out of it. As such, they are poor team players.

5. The fear hinders one's life

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People with this kind of phobia tend to interrupt their normal life. Most people have the ability to deal and get over their fears pretty fast. However, those that are atelophobic find it more difficult to cope.

How do you cure Atelophobia?

what does atelophobia mean
Source: UGC

With atelophobia symptoms described above, one can deduce if they have this condition. Observing and constantly monitoring the progress and re-occurrence of the signs can help you reach a conclusion. When you are convinced that this is what you are suffering from, then you should come up with solutions fast. The fear of imperfection should not hold you back from becoming the best version of yourself. Check out the suggestions for potential solutions.

Some of the general approaches include:

  • Exposure therapy
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Medications
  • Mindfulness strategies
  • Lifestyle adjustments

For specific solutions, consider the following:

1. Avoid excessive negative emotions

It is possible that your focus is on the wrong things. When you are constantly worrying about being your best, and how to avoid failure, it is highly likely that you will attract the failure you fear so much. Rather than focus on what could go wrong, device a way of retaining pleasant memories always. Every time the desire to overreact when something is goes wrong, remind yourself of the good memories. These memories will make you happy and divert the negative energy.

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2. Focus on your moments of confidence

Every human being has moments when they are their best. When you are around people that inspire confidence in you, or those that make you feel comfortable then all your fear disappears. You are encouraged to hang around people that will keep you feeling this good and confident even when you are not perfect. With time, the desire to be imperfect will keep fading and that is when you receive your healing.

3. Focus on the manifestation of the fear more

Sometimes it is not the fear that you need to fight, but rather its manifestations. Fear alone has no power, but when it starts to overwhelm you and consume your mind then it can cripple you. You should consider dealing with the signs that present themselves since they tend to be protective mechanisms.

4. Know what your problem is

Once you define atelophobia as the phobia of not being good enough, then your main aim should be to discover what makes you feel this way. Accepting that you are sometimes irrationally scared is the first step to finding a solution. You will learn to live with the challenge. The idea is to minimize the intensity of the fear that almost cripples your life.

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5. Go for sporting activities

Channel your energy on other activities that will drain you. Physical activity tends to be a great way to deal with such fears. It burns excess fight as well as deal with the hormone that causes fear. You release feel-good hormones that replace the fear.

6. Work on self-acceptance

Some things are ingrained in your personality. No amount of fighting it can make it easy to deal with. In such cases, learn to accept this phobia as one of your weaknesses. Analyze the things that make you self-conscious and self-aware, and slowly work on accepting them, as opposed to treating them as mistakes worth correcting. For instance, accepting that you are single at a certain time can help you get into a relationship later with the right mindset. This way, you can maintain a healthy relationship with others.

7. Don't fight fear by trying to expel it

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Forget about the people that tell you to expel all your fear. Be careful since this can lead to anxieties and panic attacks constantly. Take gradual steps in dealing with the difficult process.

8. Avoid drunkenness

If possible, avoid getting drunk. This will only aggravate the situation. It triggers a lot of anxiety which is not good for your situation.

Difference between Atelophobia vs Perfectionism

From the descriptions above, one can easily get confused between atelophobia and perfectionism. While the two share a number of similarities, they differ greatly too. Both atelophobia and perfectionism can wreak havoc on one's goals since they tend to distract an individual.

Perfectionists may know in their hearts that they are capable of achieving awesome things. However, they tend to feel frozen sometimes because they also tend to set the bar really high, while knowing that attaining perfection is impossible. Even though this is a subconscious knowledge, they find it difficult to resist from wanting to attain it anyway.

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A perfectionist can easily relate to the issue of atelophobia. However, phobias and chronic habits are distinctly different. In addition to that, there are different approaches to overcoming either of them.

Both do not discriminate or target specific people to affect. Anyone can suffer from either condition. They are also not to be ashamed about. However, perfectionism is a chronic that can be managed through self-care and can be sorted through professional help. Atelophobia on the other hand is a deep-seated fear that significantly impairs one's life. It can get better with professional help.

When you can answer the question, what does atelophobia mean you can take the necessary measure to protect yourself from letting it control your life. Atelophobia is not something that should make you have a lower quality of life. Accept your weaknesses and work on addressing them.


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