Avatar Author 17 Apr 2023

Ways to Overcome Perfectionism

Ways to Overcome Perfectionism: Excellence and Perfection distinguished


Do you take pride in being a perfectionist in life? Many are pleased with being a perfectionist and go on and on about their organised traits. Perfectionism is nothing but a drive that demands you to feel, appear, and be perfect all the time. However, in our society being a perfectionist is seen as a positive attribute,leading everyone to overlook its negative effects.

As a perfectionist, you have extremely high personal standards and are overly self-critical in all situations. The need to be without flaws is so inherent that there is an insistence on nothing but flawlessness. This makes you critical of yourself and others in attempts to control people and situations that cater to your idea of being perfect. What many need to understand is the difference between perfectionists and high achievers, wherein we discover the thin line between perfection and excellence. For your own health and wellness, being a higher achiever or striving for excellence is far better than running behind perfectionism.


Due to high personal standards, perfectionism can rob you of peace of mind, enjoyment, and self-esteem. It is important to overcome perfectionism in order to decrease the level of stress you may feel on a daily basis. In this article, you will understand the distinction between perfectionists and high achievers and also look at some ways to shed the burden of perfectionism with time and practice.


Perfectionism Vs Excellence 


When you attempt to understand the true meaning of perfectionism, it is crucial to remember the basics of what perfectionism is and what is not. Not only will it help you stay motivated to make changes but also rationalize your compulsive thought to be ‘perfect’. One major difference between perfectionism and excellence is where exactly your focus lies. When you are striving for higher achievement, your focus is on your accomplishments and the lessons you learn from your mistakes. However, in perfectionism, the focus is very stringent and if anything is lacking, you instantly feel the burden of not being up to the mark. This can rob you of the satisfaction and contentment from all the things that you do well and only focuses on what isn’t there. Another major hurdle for perfectionists is the fear of stop wanting perfection. Without the crutch of perfectionism, they can become low achievers and let their goes go by the wayside.


In spite of their need to have everything perfect, perfectionists actually are low achievers than those who aim for excellence. Because their focus is a stray, they lack motivation and fall prey to procrastination and self-sabotaging behaviours.


Top 7 ways to overcome perfectionism and maintain a healthier attitude


1. Be Aware of your problem areas: First and foremost, you need to understand and be aware of your patterns to be in a better position to alter them. Make sure to record your perfectionistic thoughts as they pop into your head, every night, in order to not leave out important information. Try and remember the time you failed or felt like you didn’t do enough and write down what you thought at that time. This will make you aware of your perfectionistic thoughts and problem areas that you need to work on in the future.


2. Do a cost-benefit analysis: You may be under the impression that you are more effective because of your perfectionistic traits but at what cost are you still relying on them? The negative consequences of perfectionism are many and it is possible that you may be experiencing a couple of them right now. Take a second and make a cost-benefit analysis in your head once you list down all the ways perfectionism is troubling you. You will realise and feel motivated to drop these tendencies as soon as possible.


3. Tweak your Self-Talk: Self-talk is a great way to venture into self-exploration and have a better understanding of what motivates us. For those who are distressed with perfectionism, there is a constant critical voice in their head reminding them that they are not good enough or that their work is not up to the mark. In order to overcome perfectionism, there is an immediate need to change this overly self-critical voice. Negative self-talk tends to perpetuate unhealthy behaviours and completely destroy your esteem over a period of time.


4. Look at the positives: Being a perfectionist you are used to spotting mistakes in even the best works of others and of yourself. No matter how you started, you may now be able to naturally look for mistakes in things that you have indeed put a lot of hard work into. This is not an easy habit to let go of and will take an immense amount of conscious effort and practice from your end. To begin with, try and focus your attention on things that are good with your work and the achievements of others. For example, if you feel like criticizing yourself for not scoring the highest in all subjects, then in that case try focusing your attention on the subjects in which you did well and scored way better than you did last time.


5. Start small but start right away: Another drawback of perfectionism is the tendency to set unreasonable and unrealistic goals with no learning curve. As opposed to high achievers, perfectionists are usually in trouble due to their rigidity regarding goals and little room for error. Remember that you don’t have to let go of your desires and goals to overcome perfectionism. The pertinent thing to do here is to set small goals for yourself and appreciate yourself when you complete them. Once you do this as a practice you will learn to forgive your mistakes and reward yourself for accomplishments.


6. Embrace the process of growth: Being a perfectionist is a burden more than it is a thing to be proud of. You are already beating yourself up for results that are less than perfect. However, by following the above steps you are now aware of your problematic behaviour and have, to an extent, set bite-sized goals for yourself to achieve. But remember that the most important thing is to enjoy the process of doing a task and getting involved in it. Even journaling about how you feel and what you learn as you reach a goal is very relevant to your cause. Basically, focusing more on the process of reaching a goal rather than the goal itself is a great way to overcome perfectionism.


7. Your critics are your well-wishers:  Reacting defensively to criticism is an attitude that you must strive to alter. Remember that constructive criticism can give you important clues to enhance your performance and pave the way toward success. In case you encounter feedback that is too harsh or pointed, it is okay to remind yourself and others that mistakes are the stepping stones to infinite knowledge.


None of us are perfect and trying to be something that is unrealistic will only lead to distress. Embracing your flaws and working on them is the greatest gift you can give to your mental health.


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