We live in a competitive world, and many aspire to success and achievement. However, there is a difference between striving to be a high-achiever and wanting to perform well – and being a perfectionist driven by fear of failure. Perfectionism can adversely impact self-esteem and destroy one’s sense of peace. It is associated with significant anxiety, stress, and fears of judgment or ineptitude. Perfectionists hold themselves to unrealistic standards, can be unduly critical of themselves, and fear becoming a failure if they are not perfect. They are their own worst critic.

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The constant pressure to be flawless and outperform everyone around them can cause severe mental health issues if not identified and confronted. Here are some quick tips for overcoming perfectionism.

  1. Become More Self-Aware: The first step to conquering perfectionism is to become more aware of the thoughts and behavioral patterns that trigger the perfection tendency. One way to do this is to begin journaling feelings and emotions to understand them better. Once an individual is clued into the ways that perfectionism has control, self-talk can be modified gradually.
  2. Concentrate on Positive Aspects: When determined to make everything perfect, we often focus on the negative aspects of ourselves, as well as our work or relationships. However, it’s essential to make a dedicated effort to see the good parts of life. An excellent exercise is identifying three things you are grateful for when you begin feeling negative thoughts.
  3. Allow Room for Error: Perfectionists must understand that a mistake does not automatically translate to a terminal failure. Errors and missteps are growth opportunities and can help us to identify new ways of doing things. Take on a new activity or hobby and concentrate on having fun, not being perfect. Eventually, it becomes evident that mistakes are necessary for positive development.
  4. Set Attainable Goals: Because perfectionists hold themselves to an unrealistic standard, they often set unrealistic goals for themselves. A key strategy for releasing perfectionism is to set more attainable goals, resulting in less stress and building confidence as milestones are met.
  5. Learn to Accept Criticism: Perfectionists tend to internalize criticism, resulting in low self-worth and a loss of confidence. Learning to receive constructive criticism is vital as it gives us the information we need to grow.
  6. Stay on Schedule: Procrastination is common among perfectionists, as they would rather put something off than fail at it. However, this behavior can result in a lot more stress in the long run. The most challenging part is getting started, but once you do, remember that a first draft is not meant to be perfect. Give yourself a break, get started, and you can work on a final product later.
  7. Eliminate Negative or Comparative Influences: Social media has significantly impacted how people view their reality, and it has been particularly problematic for those prone to perfectionism. Social media presents an unrealistic narrative of how well everyone else is doing and can make perfectionists feel that they are falling behind. Until the need to excel at everything is under control, perfectionists may want to limit their access to these influences- or delete them altogether.
  8. Find a Counselor: A counselor can help those dealing with perfectionism reduce anxiety, reframe their thoughts and better comprehend why they act as they do. Therapy may be an excellent option to provide the necessary tools and support structure to conquer perfectionism.

Denise Schonwald is a nationally certified mental health counselor and coach based in Sarasota, Florida. She is dedicated to helping clients across the country to achieve the life they want and deserve.