10 Simple Tips to Deal with Perfectionism

10 Simple Tips to Deal with Perfectionism

Striving for excellence is a good thing. Perfectionism, however, is an unhealthy and unrelenting expectation that you’ll excel at everything, you’ll never fail or make a mistake, that you’re flawless.  When you expect the impossible from yourself and others, you’re bound to be unhappy.

When you expect yourself to be perfect, you make your self-worth contingent upon your accomplishments. This means you’re never satisfied and always chasing the next achievement. Perfectionism tends to contribute to criticism (of self and others), rigid all or nothing thinking (you’re either a success or a failure), overworking and difficulty relaxing and enjoying life, reluctance to try new things, fear of failure, ruminating, anxiety, and depression.

Let’s see if we can move you just a couple of baby steps away from your perfectionist tendencies. Sometimes small changes are enough to make a meaningful difference in the quality of your life. You do not need to change everything about yourself and swing to the opposite extreme.

10 simple tips to deal with perfectionism (plus a bonus #11)

  1. People will still like you even when you make mistakes or aren’t perfect.
  2. Imperfections and mistakes are the fuel for learning.
  3. Stop comparing yourself to others.
  4. You are worthy because you are you, not because of what you accomplish.
  5. Do just a little bit less. It’s okay to leave something undone or incomplete.
  6. Doing something is better than doing nothing.
  7. Just get started. Beat procrastination by committing to doing a task for just five minutes.
  8. Look for other people’s strengths; criticize less.
  9. There is not just success or failure; there is lots of space in between for what I call “partial successes”.
  10. Enjoy today; stop waiting until you’re __________ enough.
  11. Share just a little bit more of yourself emotionally; work your way up to sharing your worries, doubts, regrets, or confusion.

Allowing yourself to be imperfect helps you to enjoy life more fully! I hope you’ll try to notice when you’re expecting yourself to be perfect try to dial back those expectations just a bit and let yourself be human.

And if you’d like to learn more about perfectionism, sign up for my email list for new posts and helpful resources.



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© Sharon Martin, LCSW

Sharon Martin, a licensed counselor and psychotherapist in Northern California, specializes in helping adult children of alcoholics and others who struggle with anxiety, perfectionism, and self-criticism. She has a private psychotherapy practice in CA where she is available for online counseling. Sharon is also the author of The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism and write the blog Conquering Codependency for Psychology Today.

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