Do you beat yourself up over small mistakes, take ages to write an email, and feel like if you’re not perfect, you’re not good enough?
Chances are, you may be suffering from perfectionism. Healing from this is a journey, but I’d like to offer 3 practical steps to take to help you start that journey!
Treat Yourself As You Treat Others!
My favorite question to ask my clients who struggle with perfectionism is “Would you think that, or say that to your best friend?”. Oftentimes, when we struggle with the need to be perfect, we can be our own worst critic, and our speech to ourselves is negative, if not brutal! My first tip in healing from perfectionism, when you are being hard on yourself, reflect on whether you would repeat what you are telling yourself to your best friend. If the answer is no, don’t repeat it to yourself! Instead, see how you can turn the negative statement into a positive.
Challenge Your Perfectionistic Thoughts.
As mentioned above, we often speak poorly to ourselves when struggling with perfectionism. Common thoughts we can have are “I have to be perfect” or “If I’m not perfect, I’m a failure.” These thoughts can be very damaging to our sense of self and can lead to anxiety and depression. Challenging these thoughts involves questioning their accuracy and looking for evidence that contradicts them. For example, you might ask yourself, “Is it really true that I have to be perfect?” or “Have there been times when I’ve made mistakes and things turned out okay?”. Self-reflection is key here! You will often find that our worst fears, like “no one will accept me if I’m not perfect”, is in fact, not true! In this case, write down times when you made a mistake and were accepted.
Set Realistic Goals.
Perfectionists often set very high goals for themselves that are difficult or impossible to achieve. This can lead to feelings of frustration and disappointment. Setting realistic goals involves setting goals that are challenging but achievable, and breaking them down into smaller steps. This can help you feel more in control and less overwhelmed. My favorite way to teach clients how to set more realistic goals is by using the SMART acronym. Make sure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, healing from perfectionism is a journey. Have patience with yourself and practice treating yourself as you treat others!
Linné Handy is a psychotherapist who specializes in working with individuals who have the desire to break free from anxiety, navigate relational challenges and adjust to life in the United States. She personalizes her approach for each client drawing from evidence-based practices including CBT, SFBT, MBSR, and EMDR.
We offer in-person and virtual services – contact us today to learn more!