Perfectionism is the combination of setting unattainable standards accompanied by critical self-evaluation. Perfection also entails concerns over judgment or evaluation by others. Perfectionism can lead to anxiety, depression, self-harm, disordered eating and more. If you struggle with perfectionism, reach out to Empower Counseling for anxiety counseling.
As I mentioned in this previous blog post, you might be one of three types of perfectionists, 2 of the types, or all three.
Regardless of what type of perfectionist you may be, here are three tips to let go of perfectionism and move toward a happier, more joyful life.
1. Process over Perfection:
You can avoid perfectionism by lowering the bar, by lowering your expectations to a reasonable level.
But I am going to propose something different.
What if we took this one step further? Instead of lowering the bar, let’s get rid of it all together.
What if we let go of expectations all together and focused on the process of living what we value? What kind of results could we achieve if we are no longer focused on the results, at all?
What does that do to your mindset? Are you more likely to try when you remove the pressure of an unattainable standard?
Are you more likely to feel good about yourself after you have lived the process rather than focussing solely on the result?
What satisfaction and self-esteem could you have if you set a goal and then just simply focussed on the process?
There is no need to keep yourself from trying because whatever the result is, you are going to be happy with yourself. Confident in your ability to try.
Process focussed, treating life like an experiment teaches us perseverance, flexibility, and diligence. If you need help becoming process focused, Empower Counseling, in Birmingham, Alabama, can help you with anxiety counseling for perfectionism.
2. Done is better than perfect.
Have you ever noticed how being a perfectionist keeps you stuck?
You have thoughts of “I must be able to do xyz before I can get started”. Or I must know more about this before I can do that”.
Then you look up months down the road and something you meant to do by January, you have not done and it is June.
Perfection makes us procrastinate because we always need to learn more, know more, before we begin.
That is a mind trick my friends that keeps us perfectly stuck where we are, not moving toward goals, not satisfied in our lives.
I am about to tell you something that will help free you from perfectionism and actually get moving toward your goals.
Act when you are 80% ready. Do not wait until your brain tells you it is time. Because it will never tell you that you are ready to act. There will always be a reason it is not time. Being 80% ready means you have thought it though enough to go ahead and do it.
We learn by doing anyway. You will never think something into perfection. You get better and better by doing then analyzing the data. This 80% rule goes hand in hand with treating life like an experiment.
If you find yourself stuck, unable to take action, reach out to Empower Counseling, a Birmingham area counseling clinic that provides anxiety counseling in-person and online.
3. Be your own Cheerleader through anxiety counseling.
Now let’a add in the last piece of the puzzle….that piece that is so hard to find…we have been looking and looking but it was hidden under the box top with the picture of the puzzle on it.
With perfectionism, comes critical self talk right? You are never good enough because you can’t possibly live up to the unreasonable standards you set for yourself. When you don’t live up to those standards, what do you do:
You call yourself lazy. You tell yourself “I can’t do it”. You tell yourself all sorts of critical things.
It is called negative reinforcement. By beating yourself up after you try and necessarily fail to live up to your standards, you are making it less likely that you will continue to try new things in the future.
If someone else insulted you every time you did something, you would stop doing it.
The answer to the negative self-talk is self-compassion.
We have already made it easier on you to switch from being your own harshest critic to your own biggest cheerleader by letting go of expectations and becoming process focused. If there are no expectations, there is no need to criticize.
I want you to begin treating yourself the way you would a friends, or better yet, a small child. Every time you take action, I want you to cheer yourself on. Congratulate you. Pat yourself on the back. Sit in the feeling of being proud of yourself for taking action and moving forward, however imperfect it was, Not you are positively rewarding yourself- making it more likely that you will continue to take action and move toward what is important to you. This is how you reach goals- not by holding yourself to unattainable standards.
You reach goals by determining what you want. Determining what action it will take for you to get there. Starting the action when you are 80% ready. And focusing on the process-learning and making the process better each time. And by doing so you achieve your goal, lower your stress , actually enjoying yourself along the way and not just at the end when you achieve a result.
If you are a perfectionist it is crucial to find a therapist who understands and treats perfectionism, not just anxiety.
I hope you have learned how not to get stuck in perfection. If you want more help with this- just reach out to Kathryn at Empower Counseling, serving Homewood, Mountain Brook, Vestavia, Hoover and all other surrounding areas of Birmingham. This is one thing I help my clients with daily.
Here is a suggested podcast episode for perfectionism: