A healthy level of perfectionism can have huge benefits. Performing and working to the best of your ability is a great way to live, to achieve both at work at in your personal life. Extreme perfectionism can be very damaging, however, and can contradictorily stop us from achieving, simply because we are too scared of failing to even try.
Extreme perfectionists often feel dissatisfied or regretful, overwhelmed by their own goals, or resentful of other people’s lives (particularly if those people don’t appear to work as hard as you!) They can also have a tendency to procrastinate, waiting for the ‘perfect’ moment to do something, or avoid relationships, waiting for the ‘perfect’ person. If you recognise any of these signs, it’s possible that you are an extreme perfectionist.
Recognise the source
So much of our struggle for perfectionism comes from a fear of disapproval. We are social creatures, and the opinion of others can easily lift us up, or make us feel terrible. Whether this comes from childhood, family relationships or friendships, often our need to please comes from a fear of failure. Make peace with this, and understand the source of your extreme perfectionism. You do not need to achieve perfection in everything that you do; simply do your best and enjoy the journey!
Avoid unhealthy comparisons
It’s great to have aspirations, and having a role model to inspire you can be very helpful. With social media at the forefront of everything that we do, however, it’s easy to assume that other people are happier, healthier, and financially better off than you. Remember that everything that we put on social media is filtered to show the best version of ourselves, and as a result, is not presenting the truest picture of our lives.
Extreme perfectionists can also find themselves being unreasonably judgmental of others. If you consciously make an effort to stop judging others, it is likely that you will become much kinder to yourself. Everyone wins!
Let go of past errors
A key trait of extreme perfectionists is that they often hold on to past mistakes or problems.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it can be very damaging if we constantly berate ourselves for events that happened in the past. Constantly going over the same event in your mind makes the memory stronger, more negative, and more debilitating in the future.
Each time that the memory comes into your mind, take a moment to forgive yourself, recognise that you have learnt from the experience, and let it go. The negative memory will soon lose its power over you.
Extreme perfectionists have a tendency to talk to themselves in a negative way. Each time that you have a negative thought, try to replace it with something kind.
No one is perfect
Mistakes help me to learn and grow
I always try my best
I am enough
Remember that being good enough is a great achievement, and be as kind to yourself as you are to others.
Learn to take risks
To an extreme perfectionist, a risk might be something as simple as sending an email with a spelling mistake. Gently nudge your boundaries to help you learn to deal with risk. This might mean only spellchecking a document once instead of multiple times, or getting on a train without planning your journey, or going on a blind date. If these risks seem insurmountable, ask yourself the following questions:
What is the worst that could happen?
How could it help you next time?
What could you learn or gain from the experience?
An important thing to remember is that true perfection doesn’t exist. Set yourself realistic goals, and learn to love yourself – including your imperfections! When you free yourself from extreme perfectionism, life will be infinitely happier, more enjoyable and more exciting!
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All the best,
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