Are you wondering how to overcome perfectionism?
Perfectionism is a personality trait that weighs down those who suffer from it. I should know. I am a perfectionist. Do you struggle with it, too? It’s characterized by a striving for flawlessness. Perfectionists tend to set excessively high performance standards and are overly critical of themselves and others. If this is you, do these four things now to avoid living with the burden of striving – striving for that perfect image or stellar reputation all of the time. After all, it’s exhausting! Here's the best way on how to overcome perfectionism.
My dear co-perfectionist friends, our choices, circumstances, and even our very lives don’t present themselves in a simple all or nothing format. A job loss does not automatically equate to financial ruin. A struggling marriage doesn’t have to end in divorce. A “B” on a test will not lead to failing the class. There is a middle ground. It’s where peace reigns. I know, because after years of living with “always” and “never,” I’ve discovered the life of “sometimes” and “maybe.” It’s been so refreshing and is one of the best answers for when you're trying to figure out how to overcome perfectionism.
Perfectionists focus solely on the results. Our eyes are on the prize, and we forget that life is a long expedition, fraught with twists and turns. The most meaningful moments happen within the journey, not at the end. It’s in the growth and struggles that we discover who we really are, it’s where our characters are developed, and it’s where we become our best selves. All of our steps towards the goal, no matter how small, are just as rewarding as the goal itself.
When others criticize perfectionists, we lose it, don’t we? We become defensive, defiant, and even stubborn. (Just ask my family!) I’ve had to learn that constructive criticism and unwarranted advice are not personal attacks. The feeling of rejection and the inner voice that whispers, “You’re not good enough” that both creep up in the midst of correction or criticisms are the products of my own insecurities. I am not defined by my mistakes. Neither are you.
I know, I know. Perfectionists rarely have unmet goals. But, when we do, look out! When we don’t meet our lofty goals, we are left with feelings of inadequacy. Our failures are difficult to get over, and we constantly revisit our mistakes. Not so much to learn from them, but to beat ourselves up. In fact, many of us slip into depression. Well, guess what? We’re human! We are going to mess up, and we’ll survive. Rather than linger in the disappointment, make a list of what you gained from the journey towards the unmet goal: strength, perseverance, flexibility, or maybe a new relationship... (The list is limitless). There’s something to celebrate. I promise.
Some say perfectionism is a disease because it eats away at our health and wellness, particularly our joy and peace. We have been conditioned by a culture that says we must prove ourselves capable and worthy – capable of success, worthy of acceptance, even worthy to be loved.
It’s a lie... a big fat lie! None of us is perfect. In fact, the day we decide to release the burden to uphold the perfect reputation, admit our flaws, be vulnerable, and take ownership of our weaknesses and struggles, we will have entered into the season of our greatest triumphs.
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