The need to make everything feel or appear to be perfect can be utterly exhausting – not to mention, completely impossible. Learning how to overcome perfectionism and love yourself (flaws and all) can be the most liberating act of self-care.
What is perfectionism?
While we can all have our own unique view on perfectionism, according to Psychology Today, the need for perfection is defined as constantly striving for flawlessness in all areas of life. This desire to live a “perfect” life is accompanied by high levels of self-criticism and the inability to simply let things go.
Signs you may be a perfectionist
Are you curious if you’re a perfectionist? Below are some common signs that the need for perfection is ruling your life. Of course, take these examples with a grain of salt and know that each instance might not apply to you.
1. You expect perfection from everyone
As a perfectionist, it’s easy to expect everyone else to behave similarly because that’s the only way you know how to behave. Of course, this belief can land you in some hot water with those who challenge your perfectionist ways.
What you can do instead: practice patience and remember that everyone is on their path – not everyone holds the same beliefs you do, and that’s okay!
2. Letting others in can be challenging
To continue off of the above point, letting others into your life can be challenging as a perfectionist because you don’t want to set yourself up for disappointment due to your (high or impossible) standards.
What you can do instead: again, practice patience and see others for who they indeed are, not who you want them to be.
3. Critical is your middle name
Okay, so this one might be hard to swallow, but if you’ve been called critical a time or two, chances are you have some habits linked to perfectionism. Being overly critical is often tied to attempting to achieve flawlessness and the need to criticize anything or anyone that isn’t (in your eyes) flawless.
When learning how to overcome perfectionism, releasing criticism of others and yourself is essential.
What you can do instead: try shifting your mindset to look at the things you’re usually critical of and/or perceive as unfavorable. How can you become positive instead?
4. Attempting to control others brings your peace
Do you feel the need to butt in and tell others what to do before they’ve even started on a task? Or maybe you can’t seem to keep your opinions to yourself. If you have all the control, everything will be perfect, right? Wrong.
Attempting to control others is a surefire sign that you’re a perfectionist – mostly because you’re seeking the security and peace that “perfection” brings.
What you can do instead: embrace each individual situation and be respectful of other people’s boundaries when it comes to your unsolicited opinions and advice.
5. Nothing is ever “good enough”
If the fear of not being good enough is holding you back from being vulnerable, putting yourself out there, or making changes in life, there’s a pretty solid chance you’re a perfectionist. Learning to handle fear in a positive way is essential to releasing perfectionism.
What you can do instead: learn to lean into fear and put yourself out there before you feel “ready”. Chances are, you’re more than ready.
Strategies for dealing with perfectionism
Like I mentioned above, one of the most important strategies you can develop when learning how to overcome perfectionism is patience. Learning patience with yourself and others is essential if you want to learn how to reduce perfectionism and its role in your life.
Additionally, be sure to give yourself ample amounts of grace as you begin to navigate new waters outside of perfectionism. Learning how to live with perfectionism takes time and there will be moments that you become frustrated or annoyed – know that’s all part of the process.
Also, creating a few empowering affirmations can help to support you through this journey. Here are some to get you started:
- I love and accept myself
- I am enough and what I do is enough
- My worth does not depend on my work/job/productivity/weight/relationship status
The true danger of perfectionism
If you sit back and think about all the risks you haven’t taken in life because of perfectionism, does it feel like a lot? The danger of being a perfectionist is that you are inadvertently missing out on opportunities because the fear of not being flawless or perfect holds you back.
By letting go of the desire to feel “perfect,” you open yourself up to take more risks and experience all that comes along with that – good and bad. You’ll begin to feel more grounded, open, and excited about life.
When allowing your world to be run by the desire for perfection, you risk on losing out on being truly present within your life. What are you losing?
Learning how to overcome perfectionism can genuinely change your life.
Support for perfectionists
If you’re looking for more help on overcoming your perfectionism, check out the below resources:
- Listen in: The Secret Behind Recognizing and Releasing Fear
- Listen in: The Secrets to Finally Ovecoming Perfectionism
- Read: Present Over Perfect by Sauna Niequist (one of my favorite books, I highly recommend!)
- Workbook: Present Over Perfect Study Guide