The Art Of Overcoming Perfection
People with a low self-esteem tend to have a high level of perfectionism which is a horrible combination and a sure recipe for frustration and anxiety. Will you overcome perfectionism by raising your self-esteem? Yes, you will. Or will overcoming perfectionism raise your self-esteem? Yes, it will. It works both ways. Let’s look at overcoming perfectionism.
Once again self-awareness is the key. Knowing what we want and what we don’t want is the key to overcoming perfectionism. It’s about accepting reality. Accept your emotions, accept that it’s difficult. If something has just happened to you, you might not be able to change it, but you might well be able to change your interpretation of what has happened. It’s often a matter of perspective. Is it really going to matter in ten years? In a year? Is it worth you being worried and upset?
To overcome perfectionism, you have to start focusing on effort and reward it. Reward yourself for failures, for trying again and again. I’m not kidding. By now, you already know that there is no other way to learn. Yes, failure hurts, but it hurts less every time.
Third, you overcome perfectionism by acceptance. Addition to that, acceptance of the outside, as well as acceptance of yourself. Realize that you don’t have to be perfect. Really. You can take my word on it. Accept “stuff” and take action, cope with things, put yourself on the line, and last but not least, accept your weak points and use them as a tool for growth. Always ask yourself: “What’s the growth opportunity here?”
Do you already see that you might overcome your perfectionism by doing these things? As always, change comes by introducing new behavior like for example putting yourself on the line more, but also by visualization of new behavior: Imagining yourself, seeing yourself and behaving like a person committed to excellence, and committed to doing their best.
If your perfectionism blocks you from writing a paper, a book or starting a project use the technique of the “first draft.” The art of overcoming perfection tells you that it’s only a “rough draft,” and that you will improve it later (like software companies do with their versions 1.1, 1.2, 1.5, etc.). This will take the pressure away and help you to get stuff done. Have you read about Choices and decisions?
Yes. You even have my permission to distract yourself every now and then. Sometimes, it’s better to distract ourselves when a negative thought comes up. Analyzing or even over analyzing is not always the solution. Go for a run, Listen to music, take a break and get back to the subject in question at a later time. Apply the same rules to yourself that you apply to others, meaning “Do not unto yourself what you wouldn’t do unto others” – or better said treat yourself as you would treat a friend in the same situation.
What would you do if a friend fails terribly? Or if he or she makes a mistake? I’m sure you’d be much easier on them than you are on yourself, right? Start doing unto yourself what you would do unto others. Accept failure in yourself the same way as you would accept it in others, in people you love and, last but not least, have compassion for yourself as well, not only for others.
Next time you notice your perfectionism coming up try some of the mentioned exercises and -as always- give yourself some time. You are retraining your mind. No matter what you’ve been told or what you’ve been telling yourself: It’s just a matter of practice.