Perfectionism: how to overcome perfectionism

Read following recommendations from a psychologist that will help you in overcoming perfectionism. Learn how to fight the “syndrome of perfection”!


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Today we will talk about the yearning for perfectionism both in personal relations and career life, and about its consequences.

Yearning for perfection is a natural desire of every person!

We all strive for leadership in studies, work and personal life.

If we are talking about women, the case gets even more complicated.

Women want to manage everything they encounter with, e.g. they strive for:

  • a perfectly clean home
  • excellent suppers (always!)
  • towels of identical color that are hanging in the bathroom according to their size
  • perfect appearance

However, in this rush after perfection many people forget that nobody is perfect, and sometimes slight mess in the house looks much better than perfect order.

If you think that you are already striving for perfection, you should learn how to overcome perfectionism.

Perfectionism: what is it all about?

Before we start talking about the ways of overcoming perfectionism, let’s analyze what it actually is and what are the reasons for its emergence.

Perfectionism is the yearning of a person for perfection and idealness in every sphere of life.

If a perfectionist takes up a new task, he/she does everything for its perfectly successful fulfillment!

For example, a perfectionist decides to write an essay.

It may take a week or two of his/her time to finish this essay.

You may ask, why does it take him/her so long?

The answer is simple. An average person will write an essay, read it once more the next day, then he/she will correct his/her mistakes and submit it to the teacher for checking.

However, a perfectionist will choose a completely opposite strategy. He/she will read every line of the essay over and over, rewriting it many times, even correcting all sentences in order to make them perfect.

By the way, he/she might even leave the task unfinished because of total exhaustion from the process of working itself.

What is the origin of perfectionism?

In most cases perfectionists should blame their parents for their yearning for perfection.

You may ask, why? I can explain this to you.

Have your parents forced you to write perfect letters in your exercise-books, to clean your room until state of total exhaustion, or to arrange your toys in perfect order? Have they told you that a saltcellar should stay in the middle of the table and its spout should be directed strictly to the west?

Some people suffered from their parents’ demands to study perfectly well, to be always the best and to have a perfect appearance.

Such words as “you should” and “you must” may result in the irresistible yearning for perfectionism.

Healthy perfectionism usually encourages a person to develop and quickly achieve his/her goals.

However, in most cases people encounter with a pathological form of perfectionism that makes them miserable and discontented with their lives.

If you suffer from this second type of perfectionism, you have to start thinking how to get rid of it immediately! I’m sure that I can help you with that!

How to overcome perfectionism: start changing yourself!

Tip 1. Reveal a pathological perfectionist in yourself

First of all, in order to cure the disease, you have to admit having it. Perfectionism is not an exception out of this rule.

That’s why you should start from analyzing your actions and admit having certain problems.

Obviously, it’s easier said than done, but who said that you don’t have to make any efforts? It’s for your own sake, not for somebody else’s.

In order to help you a bit, I would like to enumerate a few symptoms of pathological perfectionism. You have this disease if you:

  • yearn for unachievable standards;
  • doubt your abilities and skills;
  • feel anxiety for possible mistakes;
  • suffer from excessive perceptiveness to criticism;
  • feel anger seeing something imperfect;
  • express overrated demands to other people;
  • suffer from constant family quarrels because of small trifles.

If you possess at least half of these symptoms, my congratulations – you’ve got pathology! First thing that you have to do is to realize the existence of the problem and start overcoming perfectionism!

If you think that yearning for perfection is nonsense, you are deeply mistaken!

Perfectionism not only destroys a person from the inside, it also irritates his/her relatives and friends. Other people don’t understand the constant rage of perfectionist, while he/she cannot become satisfied until he/she achieves perfection in everything.

Tip 2. Perfection: Stop talking, start acting!

The most common problem of perfectionists is their excessive thinking activity.

For example: “I’d like to start my own business… First of all, I’ll cope with all documents… Nope, let’s invent a nice name for my imaginary company!

Or, maybe, I should rent an office, buy some furniture… By the way, my stationery should be of an identical color, brand and style…”

There is no need to give so much thought to this process, you’d better start acting! Only if you start acting, you will see first results of your activity and start solving real tasks instead of imaginary situations!

Besides, as soon as you start acting, you will stop giving too much thought to unnecessary stuff and will concentrate on perfect fulfillment of a certain task!

Tip 3. Perfectionism: Don’t try to be liked by everyone

«Have no fear of perfection — you’ll never reach it.»

Salvador Dali

You should always keep in mind that no matter how perfectly you fulfill your tasks there will always be discontented people around you.

This is one of the reasons why you shouldn’t spend too much time on the correction of your report, presentation or speech.

While some people may approve your imperfect fulfillment of the task, others may dislike the most perfect presentation that could be possibly done!

Chalk it up: 7 Ways to Be Happy

Tip 4. If you want to overcome perfectionism, learn to delegate tasks to other people

In most cases perfectionists tend to do everything on their own, because they think that nobody else can cope with the tasks as well as they can.

That’s why you should learn how to delegate part of your tasks to other people. Start with trivial family responsibilities, and at some point you will be able to proceed at work.

The most important thing that you should keep in mind: if you delegate a task to somebody else, don’t try to redo it afterwards. Tell yourself: “That will do!”. Obviously, it doesn’t mean that you should develop a careless attitude towards work; it means that you don’t have to stick to a trivial task in search of small mistakes.

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