• Written by Clo Nickel

Perfectionism





Mantra: I do not need to be perfect in order to be worthy


Perfectionism is a trait based on the belief that anything short of perfect is unacceptable or undesirable. This belief is commonly accompanied by intense self-criticism and the persistent fear of being criticized by others.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with having high standards. Those with high standards put forth their best work and then can let it go and move on. They are aware that everything may not be "perfect," but they focus on the vast majority of what they have done exceedingly well. If there were any “mistakes,” they are not afraid to learn from them and improve for the next time. Conversely, people who struggle with perfectionism, hyper-focus on what is not "perfect," are afraid to make mistakes, criticize themselves and their work, and fear being judged negatively by others. These fears can often lead to immobilization and procrastination.

It can be important to point out that striving to be "perfect" is completely unattainable. If this is our perspective, we have actually set ourselves up for failure because, as flawed human beings, there is no such thing as perfection. Thinking that something (including yourself) must be "perfect" or else it is totally unacceptable is a form of cognitive distortion called “all or nothing” thinking. The belief that to have worth we must be perfect, is typically a long-standing pattern that can often be traced back to childhood conditioning. This pattern of perfectionism stems from wanting to avoid the pain of criticism so that people won't be upset with us, reject us or even worse, leave us.

There is no doubt that perfectionism can take a toll on our emotional well-being and contribute to feelings of anxiety, depression and an inability to move forward.


Practice

Next time you are caught up in the loop of perfectionism, modify your problematic thinking patterns with the following statements:


Progress not perfection

Done is better than perfect

This may not be perfect, but it is done exceedingly well

Mistakes are something to learn and grow from

In order to move on, I can let this go

I will not strive for perfection at the expense of my health or time with family and friends

I do not need to be perfect in order to be worthy

I am perfectly imperfect

Things do not need to be perfect in order for me to be worthy

Peace over perfection

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