How to Overcome Your
By Silvia Woolard
In the usual way of describing perfectionism, it means to hold yourself and other people accountable for all actions. For believers, it means to strive towards moral and spiritual perfection. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? The problem is; it’s not a proper definition for perfectionism. It lacks a very important element: perfectionism is all about comparing yourself to other people and holding yourself and other people accountable to impossible standards.
In essence, your perfectionist tendencies make you unhappy, unsatisfied, and downright miserable. It is an extremely stressful state of mind, and you have to make an effort to overcome it.
The Difference between Perfectionism and Accountability
Overcoming perfectionism doesn’t mean you’ll become lazy and useless. You can still stay motivated to make progress on personal and professional level; you’ll just appreciate yourself and your achievements much more.
People with high-achieving mindset are focused on progress instead of end results. They realize that achievements don’t come easily. They have to work towards them and they are aware of every step forward. If, for example, a high achiever takes an online course and doesn’t complete it on time, they won’t call it a straightforward failure. They will remind themselves of all the things they’ve learned thanks to that course and they will make further efforts to complete it.
The perfectionist doesn’t act that way.
This is a person who is always focused on the results. They will aim to complete that course with perfect score ahead of time, while completing two other courses, holding a job, and taking care of their family at the same time. When they fail to do any of the tasks on their lists with perfect scores, they torture themselves. In their eyes, they are low achievers. In addition, they impose these high expectations to other people. This may be difficult for some of you to hear, but let’s be blunt: it’s not easy to be the child of a perfectionist parent.
Let’s make this clear: a perfectionist can never be happy with themselves and other people, simply because the standards they set are too high.
How to Overcome Your Tendencies to Perfectionism
- Understand Perfectionism as a Habit that You Can Change
Your perfectionist tendencies are a habitual pattern. You tend to compare yourself to others all the time, and compare other people to your high standards as well. First, you must understand that this habit is not something carved in stone. You have the power to change it.
The first step is recognizing it. You must become aware of the habitual patterns of your mind. When you start blaming yourself or others for not achieving perfect results, recognize the moment. It’s something you want to stop.
At that point, pay attention to the progress that’s been made. Since you started working towards this goal, you’ve made some progress, right? Maybe you didn’t learn everything from that course and you didn’t pass with the perfect scores, but you learned something, didn’t you? Maybe your son didn’t get an A+ on his test, but he learned something, right? There’s always room for more progress, and that’s what you should be aiming for. Progress; not end goals.
- Aim for Your Personal Best
Stop the comparisons! If you’re not Mozart, does that mean you shouldn’t even bother exploring your musical potential? If you’re not Hemingway, does that mean you shouldn’t bother working on your writing skills?
Keep in mind that no matter what you do and what you achieve, someone somewhere will always be better than you. You cannot be the absolute best in anything. Even Usain Bolt has competition and he will be taken off the leading position at one point or another.
Instead of comparing yourself to others, just aim for your personal best. It might not be the perfect score. But you’ll still reach and expand your potential, and you’ll have more space for growth.
- Change Your Self-Talk Patterns
Perfectionists have a harsh critical voice within themselves. This voice always tells them that what they are doing is not good enough. It’s always there to remind them they are not good enough and they failed. This is the main aspect of your perfectionist tendencies you want to change.
It’s mostly the negative self-talk that turns you into a bitter person. It trashes your self-esteem and makes you unhappy with whatever you achieve.
So how do you change it?
It will be a long and demanding process. This voice won’t go by itself. Whenever it appears, you just need to recognize it and focus on the positive. Find things to be proud of. Remind yourself of your success. Give yourself a shoulder pat for making an effort. Yes; you can be better and you’ll still try to be. There’s nothing bad about that.
You can never be the perfect parent, perfect worker, perfect learner, perfect social contributor, perfect athlete, and a perfectly good-looking person at the same time. Instead of aiming for something impossible, you should set more realistic standards and appreciate every single effort towards achieving them.
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