No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. You may have heard these common phrases at some point in your life. For many people, they’re words of wisdom that can help you move past failure or rejection. But for many perfectionists, those sayings go in one ear and out the other, which can lead to feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth.
What Is Perfectionism?
Perfectionism happens when a person works hard to excel at EVERYTHING they do. Being a perfectionist can sometimes be rewarding because hard work can really pay off. And working towards accomplishing your goals can build character and expand your skill set.
But being a perfectionist can also be pretty harmful. There’s a difference between striving to achieve your goals and overworking yourself to accomplish them. And the latter can actually create even bigger problems down the line.
The Problem With Perfectionism
Being a perfectionist is definitely not the move. It can cause mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. And overexerting yourself can lead to procrastination and burnout, which can make you feel even worse.
Even though it’s uncomfortable, failure is part of the human experience. It molds and shapes us to be better, more capable individuals. But when perfectionism causes you to try to avoid making mistakes, it can stunt your mental and emotional development.
How To Stop Being A Perfectionist
Perfectionists may seem to have it all together, but more often than not, they struggle just like everyone else. Plus, they’re more prone to hide their flaws and insecurities to keep it cute in front of others. But unfortunately, this behavior isn’t healthy and can worsen your mental health. To learn how to be okay with failure, here are five tips for how to overcome perfectionism:
Get to the Root of the Problem
Many times, perfectionism is a symptom of a bigger problem. And for a lot of people, that problem may be a lack of self-esteem.
Some perfectionists feel the need to overperform to prove their worth to themselves and others. Others may turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their feeling of low self-worth. But unfortunately, this is often only a temporary fix to a larger issue.
Consider speaking with a therapist or other health professional who can help you get to the root of the problem. They can offer tips and techniques for how to navigate your journey towards self-love.
Overthinking is a common behavior for people of all backgrounds. It’s especially common in people diagnosed with anxiety and depression. And even if you don’t suffer from those conditions, constantly thinking negative thoughts can quickly lead to their development.
Rumination happens when it becomes challenging to stop sad or dark thoughts. Many people struggle with it, leading to sleepless nights and even insomnia.
Instead of worrying, try meditating or praying to focus on more positive ways of thinking. You can also try incorporating productive hobbies like yoga or journaling to calm your thoughts and alleviate anxiety and tension.
Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
Comparison is pretty common among perfectionists. Competing against other people can make you feel good temporarily. But it can also be damaging to your mental health.
When you compare yourself to others, you unknowingly place a lot of responsibility on yourself. As a result, on top of meeting your own personal goals, you force yourself to meet the goals of those you compare yourself to, as well. This can take a great toll on your mental and physical wellbeing. And you may be left feeling worse than when you started.
There will always be someone who has what you want, whether it be your dream job or the perfect spouse. But sooner you realize that you alone are enough, the sooner you can rid yourself of the harmful expectations you place on yourself. Because as the saying goes, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Redirect Your Failures
When it comes to being a perfectionist, failure can really hurt. As humans, we are can often be our own worst critics. You may feel sad and even depressed when you make a mistake at work, at school, or in relationships. And it doesn’t help that our brains tend to replay those blunders over and over, making us feel even worse.
Try not to internalize your failures. Instead, consider the process and what you gained from it. For example, a failed job interview can teach you how to manage the interview process so that you can excel at your next one. And a breakup can show you what you like and dislike in a partner so you have a better understanding of the kind of partner to look out for next.
You’re bound to make a mistake in life — we all are. But what you learn from those mistakes is what matters most.
Focus On Yourself
Being a perfectionist often involves working to please other people. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being acknowledged for your hard work or accomplishments. But when you start to measure your worth based on how others view you, it can become a problem.
The way you view yourself is linked to how you navigate life. Someone who struggles with accepting themselves may seek validation from others. But unfortunately, no one can truly validate you quite like self-love can.
Instead of focusing on what others think, direct your attention inward. You can do this by meditating, practicing self-care, or performing yoga. The point is to shift focus from how to make others happy to what makes YOU happy.