Being a perfectionist involves creating impossibly high standards for yourself and others and becoming disillusioned when, inevitably, these standards are not met. Striving for excellence is a good thing but perfection is not attainable, and this fact is hard for a perfectionist to accept. This means that a perfectionist is often unhappy and dissatisfied with life, noticing the things that are wrong rather than what is right!
Some common traits of a perfectionist:
- critical of yourself and others when impossibly high standards are not met
- has catastrophic thinking; ‘If I’m not perfect I am worthless’
- has low self-esteem and has to do everything perfectly in order to be loved or accepted
- procrastinates; ‘I should not make mistakes. If I can’t do this well, even at the beginning, I’m not going to attempt it’
“The principal mark of genius is not perfection but originality, the opening of new frontiers.”
Perfectionism can cause:
- chronic procrastination by avoiding doing new things in fear of making mistakes
- wasted time by repeatedly checking over unimportant items such as the wording of low-value email responses or documents
- depression when things don’t match up to your expectations
- overcritical behaviour of yourself and others
- obsession over the small details and not seeing the big picture
Ways to tackle perfectionism if it is holding you back:
In the grand scheme of things in life, ask yourself if the small details in a particular case really matter.
Look at the big picture—the temptation of perfectionism is to focus on the minute details. Okay, so your partner has not done a totally perfect job of cleaning the bathroom but has done it to a fairly good standard and also washed the dishes and done some laundry too.
If you catch yourself noticing the bad aspects of something, immediately ask yourself, ‘what are the good things about this?’
Recognise that you and others are only human. Everyone makes mistakes and that doesn’t mean the world will end, or that if people are not perfect they are not loveable.
Ask yourself, ‘what is the worst thing that can happen if a task is not done perfectly?’ Then ask yourself, ‘if the worst thing did happen, would I handle it?’
Repeat your choice of the following affirmations daily to reprogram your mind to combat perfectionism.
Affirmations to beat perfectionism:
I forgive myself for my mistakes - I am human.
My imperfections are part of me. I accept them as a necessary part of life.
I don’t have to be perfect - just real.
I am good enough.
I let go of the need to be perfect.
I let go of perfectionism and I move on with an open heart.
I truly love and accept myself just as I am.
I truly love and accept others just as they are.
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