Perfectionism is such a sneaky trait. On the one hand, striving to be one’s best is a natural desire. On the other hand, if such striving tips over into perfectionism, then it carries impediments. And it sure can be a challenging line to walk.
People with problems of perfectionism do not just aim to be great. They set high standards that need to prove their sense of value. And falling short of those standards induces anxiety that sets the cycle anew.
The Problem with Perfectionism
Aiming to be your best self is a great thing. Working towards that goal is lovely. However, perfectionism in and of itself is more intense and can hold a person back.
- You will not complete something because it is not perfect. Therefore, you do not get things done.
- You sacrifice sleep, energy, and well-being in the attempt to meet unrealistic goals.
- Your best self would enjoy the process, but you cannot because it is all about the end product.
As a perfectionist, it can feel tough to let go. It certainly feels like if control is released, you will never be good enough. However, the opposite is true.
When you relax and let yourself be as you are, you open yourself to becoming the best version of yourself. Even though it is challenging, you can overcome perfectionism.
Practice Celebrating Each Step on Your Journey
If nothing is good enough, then you probably do not celebrate your accomplishments. Therefore, you can start shifting your relationship with perfectionism by simply celebrating little things.
Specifically, celebrate each aspect of any goal. For example, let us say that you are writing a book. Break that task down into manageable chunks, such as writing 1000 words per day. Each day, when you reach 1000 words, stop and have a small celebration. Enjoy a relaxing activity, share the news of your met goal with others, or write in your journal about your success.
Over time, you can learn to celebrate all of the little things, not just met goals. You can learn to take pride in having made the bed, spent time with a friend, or merely “done nothing.”
In other words, you can learn to be proud of yourself for being who you are, rather than focusing on what you have accomplished.
Nip Negative Self-Talk in the Bud
Set realistic goals so that you can experience a sense of accomplishment and nip negative self-talk.
A perfectionist probably focuses on falling short rather than on meeting the goal. When you look in the mirror, you may criticize yourself. When you binge-watch TV, you hate yourself for wasting time. You probably even criticize yourself for criticizing yourself.
To change your self-perception, you can first change your language. Each time that you notice yourself saying something self-critical, immediately turn the statement to something positive.
For example, when you look in that mirror, find one thing that you like about yourself and focus on that.
You can also use affirmations to build more positive self-talk into your day. It feels cheesy at first to say aloud, “I love myself just the way I am.” However, the cumulative effect of doing this day after day is astoundingly powerful.
Spend Time with People Who Love You for You
The people around us can sometimes serve as the best guides to remind us that we are lovable despite all of our flaws.
Make time for those people in your life. Focus on doing things with them that are not about meeting goals, but instead just about being together. Trust them when they share what they love about you. Try to incorporate their loving voices into your head to quiet that inner critic.
Of course, there are many underlying reasons that people struggle with perfectionism. Therapy can help to uncover those reasons and allow you to work through them. Reach out for an appointment today.