Dealing with Perfectionism

If you bash yourself for not living up to unreasonably high expectations with “I should have…” or “I shouldn’t have…” or mercilessly call yourself “stupid,” “pathetic,” “a loser” when you make a mistake, listen up. You’ve bought into your caretaker’s, parents’, or other people’s negative judgments, opinions, and demeaning labels.

The results are predictable: you pressure yourself to do and say everything perfectly, dread making errors, and avoid taking risks. Perfectionism – to a fault! To deal with the pressure, you punish yourself one way or another. You take one problem and turn it into two; you add brutal self-loathing to whatever you think you didn’t do perfectly — a social blunder, poor financial decision, or thoughtless comment.

But what’s the underlying issue beneath self-deprecating behavior and demanding perfection? You believe you need to be perfect, believing your worth is determined by what you do, have, or look like.

Perfectionism to an Extreme is Not Healthy

To turn the tide on this insidious attitude, you need to make a full-tilt assault on your destructive thoughts and learn how to express your emotions – your rage of anger, cloud of sadness, and unsettling fear – constructively and physically. It’s definitely doable. You can dismantle your negative judgments and the barrage of self-loathing.

  • When you make mistakes, interrupt all the discounting voices, praise what you did well, and look for the lessons.
  • Doggedly replace yourself-demeaning messages with kind words either when berating yourself or being criticized by others. Try one of these phrases:
    Life is for learning. We all make mistakes.

    If I knew then what I know now, I would have done it differently.

    I am not what I do. I am whole and complete no matter what.

  • Offer self-appreciations daily. Compliment your abilities, characteristics, qualities and efforts – big and little, while rigidly canceling all the “yes, buts.”

Stop the Need to be Perfect All the Time!

As you make an assault on your need to be perfect, you’ll come to accept and respect yourself, be gentle with yourself, and become your biggest fan. You will no longer feel overwhelmed, trying so hard to make everything just right.

Your confidence will soar and you’ll feel proud of your accomplishments and yourself. And in time, you’ll realize your true worth is non-negotiable. It’s been with you since the day you were born and remains untouched throughout your lifetime. Trying so hard to be perfect does not make your world better. Attitude Reconstruction will. Walk into your new world – with an improved emotional life.