Embrace being Perfectly Imperfect

Embrace being Perfectly Imperfect

Learning to be Perfectly Imperfect:_How do we change our perfectionistic thinking?_In previous blogs we've established how perfectionism negatively impacts reaching one's potential, increases anxiety and perfectionism, and contributes to mental and physical health conditions._Learn strategies to change your thinking about success and accomplishments by discarding faulty thinking patterns about perfectionism.


 

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly”-R. Kennedy



Perfection is a fantasy
In order to begin working on perfectionism we must understand and accept that perfection is a fantasy: an unattainable illusion.  Perfectionism is a recipe for self-imposed suffering and a lifetime of disappointment.

For change to occur we need to be aware of how perfectionism is negatively impacting our lives.  We must also have the desire and commitment to make positive changes to thoughts and behaviors that feed perfectionism.

The tools listed below can be helpful in changing perfectionism:

1)     PROFIT/LOSS INVENTORY

  •   List the positive benefits of being a perfectionist.  --I receive compliments on projects that are well done. I have a reputation of being a hard worker
  •   List the negative benefits of perfectionism in your life. --I rarely ever feel relaxed.  I never feel satisfied with my accomplishments.
  •   List possible consequences of relaxing your expectations for achieving perfect outcomes. --I am able to accomplish more when I accept it doesn’t have to be perfect.  I have time to relax or spend time with loved ones.
  •   List possible consequences of NOT loosening your high standards.--I am unable to get started on projects and procrastinate.  I am constantly disappointed in myself and others.

What are the costs and benefits to your perfectionism?  Does holding on to old ways of thinking benefit you or prevent growth or productivity?

2)     WHAT’S YOUR OBSESSION? 

List areas in your life you would like to improve or that are negatively impacted by perfectionism: expectations of perfect performance by yourself or others, needing to recheck work multiple times before submission, anxiety when your home or work space in not completely in order, lacking a willingness to try something new.  Be willing to listen to significant others about what they observe to be an area affected by unrealistic expectations and your perfectionism.

3)     ONE STEP AT A TIME

The perfectionist will want to address their perfectionism and fix it fast.  Unrealistic expectations about changing lifelong habits can lead to overwhelm or procrastination.  Choose one specific area for improvement and learn how it feels to achieve accomplishments without the pressure of perfect outcomes.

Examples for practicing being imperfect:

  •   Work/School:  Allowing yourself to submit work which has only been rechecked once instead of 4 to 5 times. (or 2 if 1 recheck is too anxiety provoking)
  •   Procrastination:  Beginning a project at home that you know will take time and will be unfinished; allow yourself to work on it in steady, realistic increments.  Dismiss the all or nothing thinking.
  •   Self-Care:  Practice saying no to invitations/events that you are too tired to attend; let go of guilt related to people pleasing.
  •   Home:  Allow the house to have a lived in look occasionally, try to leave your home without all things in order or in place.

4)     ACT "AS- IF" AND TAKE ACTION
Acting as if is a strategy that is helpful in all areas of life.  The power of our thoughts is  remarkable.  When we tell ourselves we will be successful, the likelihood of success is largely increased.  Act as if you already know that perfection is an unattainable illusionTaking Action, including acting as-if will help create the change you desire.

5)     STINKING THINKING-Review the Cognitive Distortion list.  Discover which types of faulty thinking patterns you use.  All or nothing, I Should Have, Negating the Positive?  Perfectionists are notorious for using negative self-talk.  Pay attention to what you say to yourself.  Listen to your faulty thinking patterns and write them down.  To counter faulty thinking patterns, do a fact check to review the Facts and the truth.  By challenging your distorted thinking patterns you can change the way you perceive yourself and others.

6)     CELEBRATE FAILURE-As we learned in previous blogs, we learn more from mistakes than things we do well.  In embracing our mistakes and failures, we learn and retain more. Learn to develop realistic expectations.  When we laugh at ourselves and let go of the illusion of perfection, we have more time and energy to put into joyful and rewarding experiences.

Make a personal inventory list: every perfectionist has different areas where energy is focused.  While you may have the need to maintain an immaculate car, someone else may be obsessed with a perfect appearance. Determine the areas that are impacting your relationships the most negatively.  We tend to be most motivated for change when our relationships are struggling.

Patience, Practice and Persistence

Change does not occur overnight and requires patience and persistence.  We may need support or someone to walk us through necessary steps for change to occur. The first steps can require action that is uncomfortable or unfamiliar.  There is nothing wrong with having high standards, but having un-achievable standards will stunt personal growth, productivity and achieving your potential. 

Use your strengths as a high achiever to assist you on your journey toward realistic standards for yourself and others.  Take action patiently, one step at a time. When failure occurs, remember that you are one step closer to success.

 

 

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