Most people would say that having high standards is a good thing. If you identify as a perfectionist you may be proud of these traits. You know that you have the ability to perform at a higher level than most people. However, perfectionism comes at a cost.
Does this sound like you?
You either do everything very well, or you don’t do it at all. Everything in between is a no-go.
Whatever you set your mind to do, you have to finish. You may end up “breaking your neck” just to complete a goal.
You may have a hard time distinguishing between a cruel comment and one intended to help you improve. You may lash out at constructive criticism.
You are pushed towards your goals by a fear of not reaching them instead of being pulled by a desire to achieve.
You make excuses because you may not be able to get the hang of it immediately, which can trigger your fear of failure.
Others may see you as a control freak, but you see it as wanting to get the job done right.
Since perfection is an illusion, the pursuit of it is never complete and neither are your projects.
You have certain rules that you believe you and others should follow. When your rules are broken, you’re not pleased.
Even when you reach a goal you may feel that if only you were perfect, it wouldn’t have been so hard to achieve.
You find yourself focusing more on what people say about your efforts than the efforts themselves.
You tend to be self-critical and unhappy. You may be lonely or isolated because your critical nature can push others away.
Perfectionism can rob you of your peace of mind, enjoyment in life, and self-esteem. Overcoming perfectionism requires courage, because it means you must accept your imperfections.
There are several strategies you can use once you recognise your perfectionist thought patterns and behaviors to help you replace these with healthier and more satisfying thoughts and behaviors.
So What Can You Do?
See it as a behavior. Think through the situations that bring out your perfectionism and acknowledge that you’re doing it. If you are aware of it, you can change it.
When you catch yourself in a negative self-talk spiral, you can choose to replace it with something else. Step back and ask yourself whether it’s necessary to be perfect in that situation.
When the time is over, move on and attend to another activity. This reduces the procrastination that typically results from perfectionism.
You are already enough and you don’t need to be perfect to continue making progress. Eliminate the excess energy that would go towards attempting the impossible.
You need to prioritize self-care or it will never happen. Imagine what life would be like if you put in half of the effort that you put into everything else into relaxation.
You may be used to setting goals of unreasonable excellence. Reduce your stress by changing your goals. Set bite-sized goals and give yourself rewards for achievement.
Do a weekly review. Learn where your perfection has a positive impact and where not. Get some “psychological distance” and ask yourself where you could use forward movement.
Decide not to take on a specific one-time job that someone else could do. The goal is to see if it gets done or not when you don’t do it. If not, realize that the world doesn’t end.
Being able to tolerate mistakes is vital for innovation and risk-taking. Making mistakes is how we grow. Don’t let this fear hold you back from trying something you want to do.
If you run into a roadblock, celebrate the discovery of that blindspot. Acknowledge mistakes and fix them. Be grateful for this experience to learn and the opportunity to improve.
You need to learn to love yourself and your needs. Continue to dedicate yourself to whatever you do, but do so without compromising your well-being.
You will soon see that your life would be less hectic, richer, healthier or calmer by doing things less perfectly. Refuse to allow perfectionism to continue wreaking havoc on your life. You can develop a healthy mindset and make life much easier and more rewarding for yourself.
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