Imperfection is part of life. Yet many of us still strive towards what we believe to be perfection, pushing ourselves to impossibly high standards and berating ourselves when we can’t achieve them.
Of course, it’s great to have purpose and to want to do things well. But perfectionism is a trap. It leads to us setting unfeasible goals and can affect our mental and physical health through stress, procrastination or overworking.
Perfectionism is usually motivated by fear of failure and self-doubt. Many perfectionists base their sense of self-worth on achievements and getting everything ‘right’ – a state that’s unhealthy and exhausting.
Releasing the idea of perfection helps us to find fresh ways to approach our work, home life and relationships. In doing so, we enjoy healthier, happier lives and create more positive outcomes.
Breaking free from perfectionism
Recognise your worth
Be kind and compassionate to yourself and others. Remind yourself that your worth is not dependent on anything that you achieve or do.
Challenge yourself to see the beauty in things you consider imperfect. Remember too, it’s all subjective. What appears imperfect to you may be ‘perfect’ to someone else. This awareness can help us to dismantle perfectionist thinking.
Reframe your perspective
Perfectionism often involves a narrow focus that makes us lose perspective. Try to keep things in a wider context. Can you pull back and look at a situation differently?
Counter that critical voice
Perfectionism is usually connected to a harsh critical voice, whether internal or external. Reflect instead on things that you have done well. Even when an outcome hasn’t been ideal, look at what did work, and what you can learn from the rest. This helps to build self-acceptance, confidence and resilience.
Curiosity can help us to break free from the rigidity of perfectionism. Being playful and exploring different approaches is great for our wellbeing and can lead to exciting new discoveries.
Learn something new
Developing new skills gives us an opportunity to practise not being perfect as we learn. This helps us to become more comfortable with not getting everything right – and allows us to see that hiccups and imperfections are part of the process of life.