Treatment

8 Ways to Overcome Trying to Be Perfect

Amanda Page Jul 15th, 2013 (updated Nov 30th, 2016)
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Perfection is impossible. We all know that, yet many of us expect nothing less and give ourselves a mental beating when we fall short. Here are some ways to stop letting perfection be the enemy and how to be happier in the long run.

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Weigh the pros and cons
Weigh the pros and cons

Perfectionism is often considered to be a good trait, but in reality, it has drawbacks that can rob you of time, self-esteem and happiness. Make a list of the ways perfectionism is harmful, whether on a daily basis or in the long run, and review it to gain perspective on your perfectionist tendencies.  

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Set realistic goals
Set realistic goals

Perfectionists tend to have unrealistic expectations and standards, coupled with all-or-nothing thinking styles.  This may cause constant stress over unobtainable goals, which can lead to anxiety and disappointment. Set small, attainable goals instead of focusing on the ideal end result, and appreciate each accomplishment along the way.   

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Focus on the positive
Focus on the positive

Perfectionists tend to focus not only on their own flaws, but on those of others as well.  This is a difficult habit to change, but through the practice of positive thinking, such negative thinking tendencies can be minimized.  Make a conscious effort to find the good in work, self, and the achievements of others. 

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Like yourself
Like yourself

Perfectionists tend to have a very critical inner monologue, which convinces them that their achievements aren’t good enough and they are not good enough. Such scrutiny can leave one feeling self-conscious and depressed. Challenge that negative inner voice by actively thinking the opposite. Repetition will help foster a better appreciation for oneself. 

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Practice mindfulness
Practice mindfulness

Focus on living in the present.  Dwelling on the past can lead to feelings of depression and inadequacy, and focusing on future issues can lead to worry and anxiety. Take time to focus on pleasant surroundings, and embrace your current state of being. This will encourage relaxation, mental clarity and a sense of calm.   

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Delegate
Delegate

Perfectionists often have the compulsion to control everything and make sure each task meets their standard of perfection. This is emotionally unhealthy because feeling constant responsibility for everyone else can quickly overwhelm a person. Learn to step back and trust others with tasks.

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Choose happiness
Choose happiness

Perfection is unobtainable, but happiness isn’t.  Chances are, being a perfectionist is standing in the way of nurturing relationships with others and one’s self. Learn to do what leads to happiness, and not what leads to a false sense of perfection.

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Put others first
Put others first

Focus on others, rather than your personal need for perfection. Channel that energy away from judging yourself and others, and instead toward connecting with others. Learning to appreciate the quirks and imperfections of others will help to embrace one’s true place, at home and in the workplace.