Surmounting Perfectionism

Perfectionists Hate Making Mistakes. 

Perfectionists tend to strive for flawlessness in almost everything they do. They set high-performance standards for themselves and tend to be extremely critical toward their efforts and results. Perfectionists don’t like making mistakes or failing.

Perfection is often confused with having high standards but they are two different things. The desire to excel and have high standards can help you achieve outstanding goals but when it turns into perfectionism, it can become problematic. Having healthy high standards and establishing realistic goals are beneficial but a perfectionist will have standards that are harmful and impractical.

The problem with perfectionism is that you often feel that you don’t measure up to your own standards and your efforts aren’t good enough. You’re constantly focused on self-doubt and negativity. That critical inner voice pushes you to work harder but it’s rarely completely satisfied no matter what you do.

You can be a perfectionist in some areas and not in others which is why you may not always recognize it within yourself. Perfectionism is a common self-esteem issue which becomes a deeply engrained behavior that can cause frequent self-criticism, health issues and burn out.

Here are some tips on how to stop being a perfectionist.


Quiet Your Inner Critic. 

Mistakes and failure are part of the process of succeeding. You can’t learn without making mistakes. Give yourself permission to make mistakes. After all, you’re human. When mistakes happen, focus on learning from them. It’s an opportunity to explore, discover and become better.

Recognize what underlying thoughts and beliefs are behind your need for perfection. Low self-esteem is usually the catalyst for being overdriven and feeling your efforts aren’t good enough.

When you find yourself being self-critical, reframe your thoughts. Turn the negative thought into a positive one, such as: “I learned something and next time I’ll do better.” Take positive, constructive action to work on whatever needs improvement.


Aim for Balance in Your Life.

Try not to hold others to your high standards. You can’t expect others to operate at the same perfectionist level you do. Better yet, replace your perfectionistic expectations for yourself or anyone else with realistic goals and expectations.

Lowering your standards doesn’t mean having no standards. Aim for good enough. Accept a broader form of excellence instead of a restrictive, unhealthy one. Realistic standards are standards that can help you do your best without costing you things such as health, relationships, and leisure time.

The key is balance. Find a balance where you do good work but don’t exhaust yourself in the process or miss out on life.


Set Time Limits on Certain Tasks.

If you tend to get carried away with eradicating very little scuff mark when washing the car or kitchen floor, set a time limit on how long you will devote to that task. That doesn’t mean that you’ll end up with a shoddy job. But it helps ensure that the car or floor will be clean enough. They’re going to get dirty again, anyway.


Put Your Own Needs Higher on Your To-Do List.

Type-A personalities and perfectionism often go hand-in-hand. If you’re a Type-A perfectionist, it’s very likely self-care is not high on your list of priorities. Don’t be a slave to your mind. Prioritize self-care, and schedule time for breaks and relaxation. Imagine what your life would be like if you gave relaxation even half the effort you put into your other undertakings.

Listen to Your Body, not Your Perfectionistic Mind. 

Although you may feel that perfectionism helps you do a better job, it’s counter-productive because it can undermine your performance by inhibiting creativity and causing exhaustion. Get creative. Color outside the lines. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes or fail. Making mistakes and failing are an essential part of the process that leads to greater success. Perfectionism is like being on a short, tight leash that denies you freedom to explore and discover.

Perfectionism is a habit but any habit can be changed. With awareness of what’s behind your perfectionism and using the strategies outlined above, you can eliminate perfectionism from your life. Your body will thank you for it.

About the Author

Robbie Holz

Robbie Holz is an internationally respected healer, medium, frequent media guest and an award-winning author.

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