Do you often find yourself paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake? Do you spend more time than necessary on tasks because you want them to be perfect? If so, then you may be struggling with perfectionism. This can be a difficult personality trait to deal with, but letting go of perfectionism is possible.
In this episode, I talk about how my insecurities led me to hitting a mini rock bottom. I talk about the ways I was tested, and the old pattern and triggers that came up (so, so, so many of them). I believe that the universe tests us when we are up leveling in our lives as a way to see if we’re ready for the new things it has in store for us, so it’s no surprise that I was challenged as much as I was BUT that doesn’t mean it was easy to overcome. I talked about what that looked like for me this week, and the lessons about control and perfectionism I was able to pull out of it.
In the blog post below, I discuss the symptoms of perfectionism, as well as strategies for letting go of perfectionism.
Note: The below is bonus content that does not appear in the episode. Looking for the show notes? Scroll down to the bottom.
What is perfectionism and why is it a struggle to let go of?
Perfectionism is a set of unrealistic, self-imposed standards and expectations that have been internalized over time. It's the belief that everything we do must be absolutely perfect in order to be acceptable. It's the act of always needing things to be perfect, or go the "right" way, and not being okay with anything less. For some people (hello, me!), this means never letting themselves or others make mistakes.
Perfectionism is a funny thing. On the one hand, it can be seen as a positive trait, indicating a high level of motivation and a desire to do things well. However, perfectionism can also be a huge obstacle, preventing us from ever feeling satisfied with our accomplishments.
Though it may seem like a good thing, perfectionism can actually be quite a struggle and letting go of perfectionism can be really tough. But why?
Part of it has to do with the way our brains are wired. Studies have shown that perfectionists tend to have higher levels of activity in the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for planning and decision-making. This means that we're constantly second-guessing ourselves, looking for ways to improve upon what we've already done.
Perfectionism can also be a learned behavior. If we grew up in an environment where we were constantly criticized or held to impossibly high standards, we may have developed perfectionist tendencies as a way of protecting ourselves from further disappointment. In these cases, perfectionism becomes a defense mechanism to cope with anxiety or feelings of unworthiness or low self-esteem. It can give us a sense of control in a world that feels chaotic.
Regardless of how our perfectionism plays out in our lives, or how much we dislike it, we have to remember that it's trying to serve a purpose. We struggle with letting go of perfectionism because we try to fight with it, sending us further into a shame spiral. The key is to recognize the underlying feelings and motivations that fuel it, and then find healthy ways to address them. But until we address the root cause, perfectionism will continue to give us a false sense of control and run our lives.
How does perfectionism hold us back from achieving our goals and dreams?
Perfectionism can be a real obstacle to achieving our goals and dreams. It's a toxic mindset that cancels creativity, productivity and joy. It convinces us that we're never good enough and that our efforts are always falling short.
When we're focused on being perfect, we're often so worried about making mistakes that we don't even try to do things that might lead to our goals. We're afraid to take risks, and we stay in our comfort zones. As a result, we play small in our lives, and miss out on opportunities and experiences that could help us achieve our dreams or move our lives forward.
Additionally, perfectionism can lead to procrastination, as we keep putting off taking action until everything is "just right." We convince ourselves that we need everything to be perfect before we can start working towards our goals, but of course nothing is ever perfect. We may be afraid to take the first step because we're worried about making a mistake, or we may spend so much time trying to perfect our plans that we never actually get around to taking action. So we keep putting off taking action because we're so overwhelmed. Over time, this can lead to feelings of frustration and despair, as we seem to be stuck in a never-ending cycle of planning and preparing but never taking the leap.
How can we start letting go of perfectionism and embrace imperfection instead?
For many of us, the pursuit of perfectionism can feel like a never-ending cycle. But when we let go of the need to be perfect, we open ourselves up to new possibilities and experiences.
For starters, it's important to understand that perfectionism is often driven by fear. We're afraid of making mistakes, of being rejected or of not measuring up. But the truth is that you can't skip being a beginner in something, mistakes are part of life, and you cant be successful without failures to learn from.
In fact, what's the belief that successful people have that makes them successful? That everything is feedback not failure. They don't stop when something goes "wrong" or doesn't meet their expectations. They use these moments to fuel them.
And that is my number one tip to letting go of perfectionism - to adopt the belief that everything is feedback not failure. Hold your vision of your goal strongly in sight and see everything along the way as feedback on if you are getting closer or further to your goal. This means that rather than viewing mistakes or set backs as failure, we should view them as feedback on how to do better the next time. This takes the pressure off to do things perfectly the first time around that leads to the overwhelm that paralyzes us from taking action.
Letting go of perfectionism doesn't mean giving up on our standards or goals. It simply means accepting that we are human. We should strive for excellence, but not at the expense of our happiness and well-being.
When we make a mistake or things aren't going the way we think they "should" go, rather than beating ourselves up, we should take the opportunity to learn and grow from our experience—after all, it's only through trial and error that any of us can truly achieve success.
Tips for letting go of perfectionism and embracing your inner flaws
So, how do you let go of perfectionism? Here are some tips.
- Accept your imperfections: The first step is to accept that mistakes are inevitable and no one is perfect. Recognize that everyone makes mistakes from time to time, and that it’s ok to not be perfect.
- Embrace being a beginner: Whether you’re learning a new skill or starting a new project, it's ok to not know everything. In face, you're a beginner, you're not supposed to know everything! Don't be afraid to ask for help or take your time as you learn and grow.
- Give yourself grace: When things don't go the way you planned, let yourself off the hook and cut yourself some slack. Instead of beating yourself up, be kind to yourself and allow yourself time to make adjustments as needed.
- Focus on the process: Rather than fixating on the end result, focus on the journey. This can help reduce stress and anxiety by shifting your focus from outcome goals to process goals - such as taking action rather than obsessing over perfectionism.
- Ditch the all-or-nothing mentality: Don’t be so hard on yourself. When you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up and think that it means you failed. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to learn and grow.
- Take risks: Perfectionism can lead to a fear of taking risks because of the fear of failure. However, taking risks can help you grow and learn, and desensitize the fear around trying new things
- Acknowledge your accomplishments: Give yourself credit for all of the things that you have accomplished despite being a perfectionist.
- Practice self-love and self-compassion: Treat yourself like you would treat a good friend! You don’t need to be perfect all the time.
- Set realistic goals: It's okay to strive for excellence, but don't get so caught up in perfectionism that you set unrealistic goals and expectations for yourself. Instead, focus on small actionable steps that will lead you towards your goal and find ways to celebrate small wins along the way.
- Let go of the need for approval from other: Fight the temptation to seek validation or approval from others in order to feel good about yourself.
- Schedule time for fun: Perfectionism often leads to burnout, so make sure to schedule time for relaxation and fun activities that you enjoy.
It's important to remember that it's okay to make mistakes. We learn and grow from them, and they shouldn't stop us from pursuing our goals. Let go of the need for perfection, and you'll be one step closer to achieving your dreams.
The importance of self-compassion in the process of letting go of perfectionism
Perfectionism can be a real beast. It's that little voice inside your head that tells you you're not good enough, that you're falling behind, that you'll never measure up. And it can be tough to silence. But here's the thing: perfectionism is actually the enemy of progress. It's what stands in between you and your goals. So if you're serious about letting go of perfectionism, self-compassion is a key ingredient.
Self-compassion is all about being kind to yourself, even when you make mistakes. It's recognizing that we are all human, and that we all have flaws. When you can cut yourself some slack and extend compassion to yourself, it becomes much easier to let go of the need to be perfect all the time. So instead of beating yourself up for not being perfect, practice positive self talk. It'll make letting go of perfectionism a whole lot easier.
You might like this: 8 Practical Ways To Be Kind To Yourself, No Matter What Life Throws At You
Resources for further reading and support
Letting go of perfectionism can be difficult, and it's ok to seek help. There are many great resources out there to help you on your journey towards self-acceptance. Here are a few:
- The Gifts Of Imperfection by Brene Brown
- Overcoming Perfectionism: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques by Roz Shafran
- Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Dr. Kristin Neff
These resources can provide you with the practical guidance and support necessary to help you let go of perfectionism and embrace yourself for who you are.
Need more guidance?
By practicing these tips, you can learn how to let go of perfectionism and find ways to live a more fulfilling life. Dealing with perfectionism can be hard, but it is possible to overcome it. Remember to practice self-compassion, take risks, and acknowledge your accomplishments. Making peace with imperfection is a journey, so take it one step at a time. With practice and patience, you can let go of perfectionism and live a life filled with acceptance and growth!
If you're struggling with letting go of perfectionism, I'm here to support you on every step of your journey towards self-acceptance. Together, we can work on finding the root cause that is driving the perfectionistic behavior. We'll use a combination of hypnosis and cognitive behavioral therapy to help you break free from the need for perfectionism. Together, we can find balance and peace in your life. Contact me today to get started, and let's get you on the right path and help you find joy, satisfaction, and peace in life.
At the end of the episode I mentioned a couple of blog posts that helped me overcome my struggles this week. Here they are:
How to Challenge Thoughts that are Causing Your Suffering is about 4 questions that liberated me from the downward perfectionism spiral. You can check that out here.
I referred back to the book Loving What Is to help me remember that we can reframe our thoughts so they stop causing us suffering. I wrote about the lessons I took away from the book in this article, How to Stop Suffering As Told By Byron Katie’s “Loving What Is”. You can read that here.