How to Stop Being a Perfectionist
People need to stop being perfectionists. Being a perfectionist is destructive to your self-esteem, mental health and general wellbeing. However perfectionism is a common self-esteem problem that can be hard to recognise. If you’re like many people, you might be asking, “What’s wrong with being a perfectionist?”
Perfection can easily be confused with having high standards but they're not the same. High standards can be healthy, productive and good for your self-esteem. However, a perfectionist will have standards that are unreasonable, unhealthy and counterproductive. It’s important to recognise perfection as a problem. Here's how to stop being a perfectionist.
Note that you could be a perfectionist in some areas and not others — it doesn’t have to apply to everything.
Why Being a Perfectionist is Bad for Your Self-Esteem
Being a perfectionist is bad for your self-esteem for many reasons. Here are a few of them:
- Being a perfectionist makes you think you’re never good enough. When you expect perfection, you are setting a standard that is unhealthy. You're setting yourself up for failure and that is self-defeating and demoralising (Today I Don't Feel Good Enough: 4 Steps To Improved Self-Esteem).
- Being a perfectionist feeds stress, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. These can be damaging to your self-esteem (Depression and Self-Esteem).
- Being a perfectionist is counter-productive and can impact on your performance. For example, you might procrastinate by waiting until something’s just right before taking action. Perhaps you leave it too late, rush to complete a task and don't do your best. Alternatively, you don't take action or work too slowly. Things don’t get done and you remain stuck.
- Being a perfectionist makes you overlook the positives. Perfectionism can cause you to focus too much on the negative. You may overlook the good things about yourself or your life and you don’t see your own worth.
- Being a perfectionist can make you too fussy so you miss good opportunities. You might dismiss something because it’s not good enough. Perhaps you’re looking to find the perfect social activity, hobby or job before you participate. In the meantime, you’re missing out on many things that are good for you. Additionally, expecting perfection from others could leave you without real friends who help your self-esteem. Nobody will have all the good qualities that you’re looking for; everyone has flaws.
Tips on How to Stop Being a Perfectionist
- Recognise perfection as a problem. Understand the difference between perfectionism and high standards. Realise that while having healthy high standards and setting realistic goals are good for you, being a perfectionist is not.
- Set realistic goals for you. Goal setting is great for building self-esteem. Replace perfectionistic expectations with healthy and realistic goals (The Benefits of Average Performance).
- Look for the positives in yourself and your life. Pay attention to the good things instead of magnifying the negatives. Notice your good qualities, the things you've done well and the good things about your life. Look for the good in others too.
- Love yourself in your entirety, including your imperfections. See the bigger picture and know that you are worthy as a whole person. One minor imperfection or flaw does not make you a "bad" or "unworthy" person (Worthiness and Belonging Key to Living a Blissful Life). Get a more balanced perspective of yourself.
- Embrace your uniqueness. You might see your uniqueness as flawed, however, your perceived "flaws" can be your greatest asset. Many people who achieved great things did so because they were different (Embrace Being Different: You Are Making A Difference).
- Stop procrastinating. Don’t wait for the perfect moment, or for something to be perfect to take action, because that will never happen. Take action now, even when something is not just right. You will feel empowered by taking action, getting more done and by participating more in life (How Procrastination Hurts Your Confidence).
- Think of mistakes as lessons. Perfectionism can come with a fear of failure, which gets in the way of moving forwards. Allow yourself to make mistakes and give yourself the opportunity to learn and grow.
I encourage you to learn as much as you can about perfectionism and get help if you're having trouble overcoming being a perfectionist. You can learn to have high standards that are healthy and realistic for you, and stop being a perfectionist.
Agathangelou, F. (2015, September 22). How to Stop Being a Perfectionist, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 16 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2015/09/how-to-stop-being-a-perfectionist
Author: Fay Agathangelou
I'm proud of you for writing and hope that you have been able to find a therapist that can help. Lots of times CBT therapy is helpful for ruminations and negative self-talk. Let me know if you've found someone.
Take Good Care,