Overcoming the Overwhelm of Perfectionism

If you're a perfectionist, you're probably your own worst enemy. Perfectionists tend to perform at a higher level than others, which keeps them in a constant state of dissatisfaction and stress. When healthy, it can be self-motivating and drive you to overcome adversity and achieve success. When unhealthy, it can be a fast and enduring track to unhappiness.


If your inner voice tells you to work harder, do better, do more--what that voice is saying is that whatever you're doing isn't good enough. This type of thought can lead to burnout, depression, and stress. Try these five tips to help reduce perfectionistic tendencies.

1. Set realistic goals

When creating goals, it's wonderful to have a balance of challenge and achievable goals. Setting and reaching a goal no matter the stumbles along the way is all that matters. This can help reduce anxiety or worry that whatever we do isn't enough. When we set small and realistic goals, we're more likely to make real progress in reaching them despite perfectionist thoughts.


2. Practice self-compassion

The inner voice of perfectionists can often be negative. It may seem as though something is lacking or can be done better. However, no matter how many changes are made it may never be enough. When negative thoughts arise, this is when we need to practice compassionate self-talk. We can do this by questioning our negative thoughts. For example, asking ourselves, "Is that really true?" and "what's the worse that could happen?" can reduce the stress that accompanies negative self-talk. The more we allow negative thinking to control our actions, the results in our lives will reflect the same.


3. Include self-care

Self-care needs to be a priority, not just for perfectionists, but for everyone in general. Taking time to reconnect with what makes us happy, taking breaks, and having healthy boundaries between work and personal life goes a long way.


4. Say no

Perfectionists sometimes have a hard time saying no. This, in turn, creates more stress and procrastination to get more done. Saying no is essential. Practice saying yes only to things that you enjoy and are passionate about.

5. Allow white spaces on your calendar

Setting free time for yourself is not wasting time. In fact, it's necessary for a balanced, happier life. Take time for yourself and relax, recharge by doing things you love. This is just as important as working hard, so don't neglect it. You only have one life to live. Make the most of your time. Remember, we are all imperfect human beings.


If you'd like to learn more about overcoming perfectionist tendencies, check out these helpful articles and books.


Perfectly Imperfect: Understanding the perfectionism phenomenon by Raychelle Cassada Lohmann Ph.D.

The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions by Christopher K. Germer. When you are anxious, sad, angry, or lonely, do you hear this self-critical voice? What would happen if, instead of fighting difficult emotions, we accepted them? Over his decades of experience as a therapist and mindfulness meditation practitioner, Dr. Christopher Germer has learned a paradoxical lesson: We all want to avoid pain, but letting it in--and responding compassionately to our own imperfections, without judgment or self-blame--are essential steps on the path to healing. This wise and eloquent book illuminates the power of self-compassion and offers creative, scientifically grounded strategies for putting it into action. Free audio downloads of the meditation exercises are available at the author's website: www.chrisgermer.com.

Copyright ©2019-Current by DRM Scholars, LLC. All rights reserved.

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