We are not born perfect (Even though our parents may think so )! And there is very little evidence to show that we are born Perfectionists. Perfectionism is something we learn through our environment, and there can be many reasons including positive reinforcement, praise, high expectations, or critical evaluations from our parents. It affects the way we view ourselves, others, and the world. Perfectionists have had experiences that lead them to develop a view of the world that encourages the pursuit of unrelenting high standards.
If you find yourself under constant stress to reach the high standards that you put upon yourself or believe that others expect of you, then you might just be at a point where “Perfectionism” is no longer serving you, but making your life and of those around you miserable.
Pursuing unrealistic standards can have a significant impact on your well-being, leading to frustration, worry, social isolation, depression, and a persistent sense of failure.
But things don’t have to stay this way!
Here are 5 tips to reduce the stress and anxiety, caused by Perfectionist thinking:
1 – Be aware, be very aware of your negative thoughts when you make a mistake, and question if those thoughts are rational. Perfectionists are often very critical of themselves. Even the smallest mistake is acceptable. For example, there may be one spelling mistake in a report you spent hours on before delivering, but the rest is spotless. You will most likely only be focusing on that one mistake, and beat yourself up the rest of the day, even if no one else may have noticed. It may be hard to accept making mistakes, but you are only human just like 7.9 billion others. Today, choose to focus on all the good things you are doing.
2 – Would you speak to your best friend the way you speak to yourself? Would you call them “useless” or “failure?”. We are usually so caring and compassionate towards our family and friends or even strangers, however, most perfectionists forget to be kind to themselves. If your best friends made a mistake, would you call them “useless” or tell them they are a failure? Most likely not. Today, choose to be your own best friend.
3 – Is it possible that you might be catastrophising and blowing things out of proportion even though the problem can be quite small? What is the worst thing that can happen? So you are 5 minutes late to a meeting, or the client asked for some changes on the project you have made, perhaps your team did not complete the work to your standards. What is the worst thing that can happen, and if that happens, then what? Today, choose to believe that you can handle whatever happens.
4 – Is it possible that you might be assuming that you know what others are thinking about you, especially in certain situations. The perfectionist often believes that others think you are not good enough and that they are harshly judgemental. Are these really their thoughts or your own?
Do you have hard evidence that this is what they are thinking? Today, choose to believe that you are likeable.
5 – Remember, you are defined with many of the values that you hold. Re-visit them; family, work, parenthood, health, marriage/relationship, community, religion, friendship and check. Do you live in line with your values, or are they out of balance? For example, your family may have the highest value you hold, but due to other duties, you may not be paying any attention to them or spending any time with them. When we do not live in balance with our values, our emotions get out of balance as well. Today, choose to make time for something or someone that really matters to you.
If you feel your perfectionist beliefs are getting in the way and causing you anxiety, it is ok to seek help. It is possible to learn how to take control of your thoughts and feelings, break free from negative patterns, and make profound changes so that you rediscover your confidence and live the life you want.
Aylin Webb: Aylin helps women over 30’s conquer their self-doubt and reclaim their lost self-esteem. Her goal is to help others foster relationships with themselves and discover inner strengths to lead a more fulfilled and happier life.
Graphics by Rhea Monte: Executive Assistant