When Perfectionism Stops You from Thriving

Do you set impractical standards for the way you handle situations at home, in social settings, or at work?  Do you beat yourself up when you don’t get it totally right – deep down fearing the judgment of others?  Do you doubt if you’re good enough if you make an honest mistake?  If yes, then you are likely a perfectionist.  The thing is being a perfectionist doesn’t guarantee that you will always get things done better than anyone else. Instead it can sink you into endless self-doubt, disappointment, and inevitable stress each time you fail to meet up.

If perfectionism is something you grapple with, what might you do to be kinder to yourself in the moment?

Six Tips for Shaking the Perfectionist in You

  • Focus on those things you did (or do) right.  I can remember in my 20s, beating myself up for days over even the tiniest of flaws.  Talk about unnecessary suffering (and taking myself way too seriously).  Even in my 40s, the self-criticism continued.  Something clicked though when I was telling my then-boss about an error I made.  He suggested that I start focusing on what I did right instead.
  • Reinforce the positive.  Identify and talk through with your partner or a friend three things you did that you were most proud of that day.  Build it into your day if you can.  Doing this every day will highlight to you the positive in each day and offset the tendency to focus mostly on negative events or interactions.  Focus on the positive in the ordinary.  In many cases we overlook the routine in the day.  But the ongoing daily interactions and tasks often reflect the most meaning and speak the most to our overall experience.
  • Pull out the nuggets of learning from the experience. What is the take away you can keep in mind, turning your experience into a teachable moment?  Knowing that your experience has served a broader purpose, you can let go of your misgivings more easily.
  • Seek perspective from an older you.  Ask yourself how important your mistake or misunderstanding will seem to the older, thoroughly seasoned, and wiser you. How does that change your perspective?  From that vantage point, we can also better see when we are holding ourselves back personally or professionally out of a fear that we are not ready, worthy, or good enough.
  • Add a loving-kindness meditation to your day.  Meditations of loving-kindness can help you meet not only others but yourself with more kindness and compassion.  There are real costs to the mind, body, and spirit when you lack self-compassion and continually beat yourself up.  Forgiving yourself for not being perfect can help you overcome fears and move forward to achieve your dreams.
  • Connect with loved ones and supportive colleagues.  Engage with others who can remind you that you are not alone and who accept you as you are.  We all make mistakes. Being imperfect is one thing all of humanity has in common.  Caring friends, family, and colleagues can reinforce that you are loved and accepted despite being an imperfect human being.

Quiet the endless stream of self-criticism that causes you real suffering and keeps you from bringing out the best you for yourself and your loved ones.  You can be kind to yourself and still thrive.

Stephanie Lewis is a certified health & wellness coach and meditation instructor.  She is also certified as a Tai Chi Easy Practice Leader through the Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi.  She helps people suffering from overwhelm reduce stress and burnout and create their own unique pathway to balance, peace, and well-being. To take Stephanie’s quiz to discover how to create more balance and manage stress visit: http://www.livewellflow.com/



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