Perfectionism does NOT make you perfect

Trying to be perfect is exhausting

And impossible. Did you realize that perfectionism might be affecting your life and you don't even realize it? Maybe your house is always a mess or you are chronically behind at work. How could you possibly consider yourself a perfectionist under those circumstances? The truth is that it's not your choices or actions that make you a perfectionist, it's your expectations of yourself. This might seem counter intuitive but it actually makes perfect sense. Think about someone in your life who is laid back and accepting of herself. You know, that person who doesn't get stressed out about her kids acting up or if her laundry is piling up. You may have misbehaving children or 4,000 loads of laundry to do, but this seems likes a failure on your part. Whereas she shrugs her shoulders and laughs it off, you beat yourself up.

Anxiety is the root of perfectionism

Perfectionism is the expectation that you will successfully complete most tasks in your life. These tasks might include household responsibilities, job performance and parenting. They might also include making sure no one is angry or disappointed with you. Perfectionism might affect only one area of your life or many. If you look closely at the cause of perfectionism, you are likely to uncover feelings related to being overwhelmed and out of control. These same feelings drive anxiety. Consider how you feel when you think you failed in some way and how you speak to yourself. Are you worried about what others will think or feel as a result of your actions? Do you think that you could do better and feel angry at yourself for not living up to your potential? Accomplishing tasks "perfectly" are an attempt to control the anxiety that comes from not feeling good enough.

Signs of perfectionism:

  1. Being a people pleaser and being very sensitive when others express disapproval

  2. Avoiding asking for help and rather do everything your way

  3. Struggling to let go of mistakes and experiencing trouble concentrating or sleeping as a result

  4. Avoiding tasks that you don't believe you can complete perfectly

  5. You might be critical with your partner when they are not doing things "the right way"

Yes, that's me! What can I do about my perfectionism?

  • Good news, you've already taken the first step! It can be hard to see that your expectations are too high when you've always been this way. Your awareness you puts you in a position to change.

  • Change your self talk: If your internal voice is harsh and critical, it is feeding into your anxiety and perfectionism. If you would want to motivate and encourage a friend, would you do it by being mean to them? Absolutely not! When you notice that you are beating yourself up speak to yourself the way you would a friend.

  • Lower your expectations: In this goal driven society this seems like bad advice, but I promise, it's not. Identify the areas of your life that you can cut yourself a little slack and accept that these areas are not going to be perfect.

  • Ask for help: This is a tough one for perfectionists. Asking for help is basically admitting that you can't handle everything on your own, which is basically admitting that you are a failure in the mind of a perfectionist. That is flawed thinking. Asking for help is a sign of self care and strength.

  • Find a therapist for help: Finding a therapist who specializes in anxiety and perfectionism can make all the difference in the world when you are battling perfectionism. Your therapist can help you see the world as it is, can help you find your strengths and can help you accept your limitations.