How to Overcome Perfectionism

blog mindset Dec 28, 2017

Perfectionism is a refusal to accept any standard short of perfection. This is created in the mind and not in reality and is truly an unrealistic expectation for how someone or something should be.

Signs of perfectionism 

  • they have an all or nothing mentality, all or nothing way of thinking
  • they have a very critical eye, judging and analyzing everything
  • they have unrealistic standards of themselves and of other people
  • they focus on the results and not the process
  • for them, results are everything and are dissatisfied if things don’t turn out the way they imagined it
  • may be depressed by unmet goals
  • may have a fear of failure
  • may procrastinate
  • can become very defensive
  • can have low self-esteem

Fixed vs. growth mindset

A fixed mindset means that everything has to be one specific way and there is no other way to have things in the end. It’s a very rigid mindset.

On the other hand, a growth mindset means you learn and grow from experiences. Having some stumbles and falls or not having things turned out perfect is okay because we can grow from that experience. This mindset is a much healthier way of approaching life because things may not always turn out the way we want them to. And in reality, it's that's usually how it is right? Not everything goes our way. Not everything goes exactly the way we think it is going to. But if we approach life with open arms and we just do our best, we can learn from every situation.

Unfortunately, the perfectionist is always set on a fixed mindset—they think results come their way when everything is in their control. But that’s really just not how life works.

Root cause of perfectionism

Perfectionism, in essence, is a lack of acceptance of who you are just as you are. You think you or the things that you do in life have to be perfect in order to be accepted in some way. You may be looking for love or a sense of worth through your perfectionism. And if you don't end up feeling like you're perfect, whether it's a goal you set or a school project, or a work project, then you do end up feeling unworthy, unloved, or not good enough. That’s the shadow side of perfectionism. It’s this sense of feeling like you have to earn your love and worth which is absolutely backward thinking.

You are born with unconditional love and unconditional worth. You are always good enough just as you are. You don't have to earn your worth or love either. But at some point in our lives, for perfectionists especially, some of us may have felt like the only way to be worthy and loved is to be perfect.

This is something that may have started from childhood or at some point growing up. It could also have been your boss, a social setting, and so on. If someone has that perfectionist quality, understand that it may be an internal struggle. It’s something that they're still latched on to and it ends up being a self-inflicted state of being. And this is where we have to start to shift the mindset—from a fixed to a growth mindset.

Questions to ask yourself

If you feel you are a perfectionist, here are a few questions that you might want to ask yourself:

  • Were you afraid of disappointing your parents because you thought it was how you earned your love?
  • Do you feel like you're not enough if you're not perfect?
  • What will happen if you're not perfect?
  • Are any of these self-inflicted beliefs actually real?

You might want to reflect on some of these questions because it may take a little bit of soul searching to find the true answer that resonates with your deeply rooted beliefs. It's important to know that you are worthy, loved, and good enough…no matter what. If someone else is projecting on you and putting you down, understand that that's their issue and not yours.

Always come from a place of controlling your own inner state and inner worth. When you do that, people can come at you with all kinds of things in life and it doesn't have to affect you.

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