We still haven’t talked about the category of people who are struggling even more with failure: the perfectionists. Most of us consider that having a high standard is a good thing (and perhaps it is, BUT there is a limit!). When you are striving for excellence, it’s great, because it proves that you have a good work ethic and strength of character, which leads your every action and thought.
However perfectionism, on the other hand, is much more than that (unfortunately!). It involves the recurrent tendency to set standards that are too high to be met, or are only attended with great difficulty and sometimes due to the sacrifice of something else which is also important.
According to a psychological research by Stoeber & Janssen, (2011): people who look for perfectionism in everything (AKA: perfectionists) use more frequently self-blame and less frequently active coping strategies and acceptance (read our article about self-acceptance and happiness here). So, at the end of the day, their satisfaction levels are low, no matter what the result was. This means that: when the high standard or goal is not met, the perfectionist faces self-blame, lack of self-acceptance and the urge to set even more unrealistic goals to regain the false self-esteem and get that so far “necessary” ego boost.
Also, people who rank high perfectionism and its concerns (individuals who aren’t happy with the results unless they are “perfect”) are disposed to embrace more dissatisfaction. All this means that, incredibly, if you’re a perfectionist, you tend to make your own life miserable without even knowing it!
But why does it happen?
Many perfectionists behave this way due to unresolved childhood issues. Let us tell you this my friend: you have been conditioned to act and behave one way to get love, acceptance or that “something” you wanted and needed as a kid. Although there can be many different reasons, one of the most common ones is this: you lived with perfectionist parents who set very high standards for you all the time, expected only the very best from you and accepted nothing less than that. Usually, they were strict and made you feel that to gain their love; first, you must accomplish everything, the way they wanted. Without noticing, you did it day after day, and you keep doing it right now to gain peers acceptance, your boss’s appreciation or any other form of “love” coming from an authority figure who might be a subconscious replacement of your parents.
Luckily, there are a few steps that can help you get rid of bad, perfectionist habits.
Some Tips That Can Help You Overcome Perfectionism
- Learn How to Recognize Perfectionist Behavior
Think, see inside yourself and ask: What are the triggers? What actions or situations make you go nuts about perfection? Is it work? Is it cleaning? Is it order? Is it a relationship? Also, see inside your past, remember all those possible previous experiences and compare them with your previous life. Again, ask yourself: Was I taught to be perfect? Did my parents always want me to be the best and only the best? Did they make me feel like I was enough or not? Then, you’ll see how the patterns emerge one by one. Learn to recognize them, accept them as part of you and let them go. Free yourself from those conditioning behaviors, and you’ll feel more peaceful and happier with yourself and the results you get.
- Use Strategies to Overcome Perfectionism
o Don’t you know how? Let us give you some guidelines:
o Change your perfectionist thinking
a) Think realistically, know your limits and accept them.
b) Take perspective from your life, and all the roles you’ve to be immersed into.
c) Look at the big picture, not only to small things.
d) Learn to compromise with yourself and your limitations.
o Change the unhealthy (perfectionism) behaviors
a) Practice repeatedly and frequently healthy habits.
b) Set realistic standards and goals, and overall go step by step, overcome them one by one.
c) Ask for help without embarrassment. A therapist or someone you trust can quickly help you deal with this. If you feel this is too much for you, then go ahead and seek help with no embarrassment. Remember, it is OK to ask for help.
o Overcome procrastination
a) Create realistic schedules, leave enough time (twice the time you think!) for every task, you’ll see how you’ll feel much more at peace, and indeed happier.
b) Set new priorities. Remember work is not everything – family time, friends and other relationships are also important. So, leave a small amount of time for them every week, believe it, or not this is IMPORTANT, a family does not last for ever.
c) Be like a kid and have the courage to learning new things (things you don’t know about). Take a yoga class, go out for a walk in the park, have a cup of coffee alone. All those frightening things are the key to your new life. Just remember to do everything step by step, and not just think about the result. Leave the top of the mountain to the end! Keep yourself in the enjoyment of the present time.
3. Reward yourself
Every time you forgive yourself for not being perfect, allow yourself to have a small reward. It can be a little thing such as a bar of chocolate, a movie, a book you always wanted to have. It can be anything! If you’re not a fan of small rewards, then, set a weekly goal and allow yourself to do something different and challenging now and then.
Remember: You can learn from your mistakes and your failures. You can even use them as stepping-stones to achieve success in your professional and personal life. In other words, failure is the best mentor you’ll ever have. So, embrace your failures and liberate yourself from the toxic perfectionism behavior and rise above it. It’s all up to you!