5 Ways To Overcome Perfectionism
As a therapist, I’m used to working with a wide range of people who present with an even wider range of issues they want to receive help to overcome. It’s a privilege to be able to help those people using counselling and hypnotherapy, which are both powerful and valuable tools that can help people to make positive life changes, overcome issues and achieve goals.
One common theme there has been throughout my ten years as a therapist is the amount of people who wish to overcome their perfectionism. It’s a growing issue, with an increasing amount of people feeling that they need to be perfect in all areas of life. However, striving for perfection can be exhausting and actually cause more harm than good. Perfectionism can hold you back from achieving and even prevent you from getting started on something in the first place. It can hold you back in life and lead to a downward spiral in which you are so caught up in trying to be perfect that you never move forward.
This is something I’m fully aware of, having been a huge perfectionist over a period of several years. I initially put it down to being a typical Virgo but that was simply an excuse to hide the truth. The fact is that I was taken in by the pressure to be perfect and live a perfect life. Life isn’t like that, though. I’m human and so are you. So, here are my top five tried and tested ways to overcome perfectionism so you can live your life with perfect imperfection.
- Know that good enough is ok. It can be incredibly frustrating trying to get something perfect but falling short of that because we don’t have the skills, the experience, the patience or the right mindset at that time to get it completely right. However, good enough is ok. It’s fine to complete something to the best of your ability. Everyone is different, so learn what is good enough for you and use that as your guide. When you’ve achieved good enough, you’re done and free to move on to the next thing.
- Understand how being a perfectionist hurts you and the people around you. It can be too easy to fall into the trap of thinking life needs to be perfect. We hear about perfect lives in songs, we watch people’s perfect lives in films and on television, and we see people’s perfect lives on social media. However, none of it is real. Songs, films and television shows are created. Social media shows an edited version of people’s lives, with all the bad bits and normal stuff that people go through filtered out. The reality is that being a perfectionist puts strain on yourself and those around you, such as partners and friends. Whenever you begin to have those perfectionist thoughts, take a step back and assess the destructive nature of those thoughts. Then refer to the first point about good enough being ok.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. You don’t know what other people are going through or what their lives are really like. Comparing yourself to other people will only make you feel inferior and fuel the need to be a perfectionist. The people you compare yourself to might actually be comparing themselves to you. That’s just as damaging. The only person that you should ever compare yourself to is yourself. This helps you to see how far you have come, what progress and growth you have achieved as a person and focus on what there is to do. It’s important you feel comfortable in your own lane, and by no longer comparing yourself to other people you will achieve that.
- Set your own standards. This is about not adhering to what society says we should be doing and achieving, but instead taking things at your own pace and understanding your own personal standards. For example, we’re told that we need to look a certain way, wear certain clothes and present ourselves in certain ways. Trying to live up to the pressure put on us by society often causes more upset as it’s so difficult to achieve what we’re told we are supposed to. The best way to live your life is by doing it on your own terms and by following your own rules. Having your own standards means there’s no pressure from outside influences and you get to determine how things should be.
- Love and respect yourself. Being a perfectionist often means negative self-talk, involving putting yourself down and telling yourself that you are not good enough because you’ve found it so challenging to achieve a perfect result in whatever it is you’re doing. That’s not a good way to live. Once you’ve followed the tips above, you’ll be able to love and respect yourself more, accepting yourself for who you are. This includes your flaws, your imperfections, and everything about yourself. So, stop the self-blame, make your well being and quality of life a priority, and choose to love yourself instead.