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Understanding Perfectionism

What is perfectionism?

Perfectionism is NOT the same thing as being goal-oriented or motivated to grow and better yourself. Perfectionism is this idea that one must be perfect in the way they act, look, communicate, and appear. It is an intangible standard, one that not a single person in the world can achieve!

Perfectionism is believing that you are what you accomplish, and that only when you accomplish your goals will you be worthy. The problem with this is that when you do accomplish those goals, you often only temporarily feel satisfied, not ever truly feeling worthy.

Perfectionism often leaves you feeling like you are not good enough. It is very hard to be happy with yourself when your perfectionism tricks you into believing you are a failure if you cannot achieve perfection.

How to work through feelings of unworthiness and perfectionism?

  1. Identify it. When you are feeling self-critical, ask yourself “is this goal SMART”?

S– Specific (simple and significant)

M– Measurable (how would you know you have achieved this goal?)

A-Achievable (attainable)

R- Relevant (reasonable)

T- Time-bound (is it possible to achieve this goal in this amount of time?)

If your goal does not fit these criteria, your perfectionism might be setting unrealistic expectations.

  1. Remind yourself that perfect does not exist. No human being is perfect. Making mistakes and growing is part of the human experience.

  2. Remind yourself perfect is not relatable. It is a lot easier to talk about strengths, talents, and accomplishments than it is to talk about failures, weaknesses, or challenges. However, allowing others to see your challenges can create a mutual bond of trust, allowing for deeper, more meaningful connection. Own who you are! You are wonderfully imperfect!

  3. Have some self-compassion. Talk to yourself the way you talk to your friends. It feels silly at first but with practice it comes more naturally. “I love you (to yourself). I am sorry you are disappointed you did not do/get/achieve____. It is okay to be upset. I still love you. You are still enough”.

  4. Remind yourself of WHO you are, not WHAT you are. You are not defined by your accomplishments. You are enough NOW, not “if” or “when” you achieve a certain goal.

  5. Take care of yourself. Engage in activities that make you feel good, remind you of what you love, who you are, and what truly matters to you.

Embracing your wonderful imperfections allows you to be your best, truest self. Be yourself, it is more fun anyways!

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