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It’s Ok to be Imperfect!
Does the idea of perfection keep you from moving forward?  Are you always worrying about getting it perfect? Our society teaches us that we should not settle for anything less than perfection and if we do it means we are lazy. When I worry about everything being perfect it can prevent me from moving forward because I become afraid to even try. I used to tell myself “It has to be perfect first.” But does it really? I have since learned that perfection is nothing, but an illusion and my life is so much less stressful now that I have learned I do not need to be perfect, I just need to do my best and that is good enough!
Did you know that trying to be perfect will affect your health and productivity? Studies have found that perfectionists have higher levels of stress, burnout, and anxiety. So, while certain aspects of perfectionism might be beneficial in the workplace, perfectionistic tendencies can also clearly impair employees at work. In fact, when performed excessively, perfectionistic behavior can have an effect that is opposite of what the person intended. Perfectionists are more likely to experience decreased productivity, impaired health, troubled interpersonal relationships, and low self-esteem.
Obsessing about making mistakes or letting others down or holding yourself to impossibly high standards can have negative consequences. According to research examining 43 different studies over 20 years by York St. John University, perfectionism is linked to burnout as well as depression, anxiety and even mortality.
A lot of people are perfectionists in specific areas of their lives. If you find yourself wanting to achieve perfection in most things you do, you might be a full-time perfectionist. Some clear signs that you might be a perfectionist include:
  • You cannot start a task until you are sure you can execute it flawlessly (procrastination).
  • You take much longer than others to complete the same task.
  • You see the end product as the most crucial part of a task.
  • You think a task is not done unless you think it is perfect.
There are three types of perfectionism. While the types have similarities, there are some key differences. The three types are:
Personal standards perfectionism. This type of perfectionism is primarily healthy because you are motivated to achieve your high personal goals. Thus, you have lower chances of burnout or stress. You are less likely to inflict self-harm due to stress from attempts at perfection. Other people might think your standards are too high, but that only gives you motivation.
Self-critical perfectionism. This type of perfectionism might cause you to feel intimidated or like you will never achieve your goals. The hopelessness this causes may lead to issues like anxiety disorders, stress, self-condemnation, and avoidance.
Socially prescribed perfectionism. Here, perfection is demanded by an outside source. This can come from a job or career that requires maximum precision, like a doctor or a lawyer. People in these professions are more likely to have thoughts of hopelessness, stress, self-harm, or even suicide. Individuals with high social or cultural expectations placed on them may also be subject to socially prescribed perfectionism.
Research has found perfectionism to be linked to some mental health issues. Some of these mental conditions include:
  • Burnout
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Eating disorders
Other lifestyle issues that may arise include:
  • Low self-esteem
  • Frustration
  • Procrastination
  • Relationship issues
  • Causes of Perfectionism
Some factors known to cause perfectionism include:
  • Fear of failure
  • Feeling the need to please parents
  • Wanting to be admired or loved by others
  • Mental health problems like anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Feeling insecure or inadequate
  • Attachment problems with parents during early childhood
  • Being a previous high achiever
  • Treatment of Perfectionism
Perfectionism can be difficult to deal with, but it is treatable. Therapy can be used to overcome perfectionism by managing the root cause of perfectionist behavior. A mental health professional will use the multidimensional perfectionism scale to find out what is causing your perfectionism before going into therapy.‌
The types of therapy employed to overcome perfectionism include:
Cognitive-behavioral therapy. This type of therapy shows the perfectionist that perfection is not necessary in everything they do. It teaches them that errors are acceptable and should not stop them from pursuing what they want.
Hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy helps manage the “all or nothing” mentality found in most perfectionists.
Family systems therapy. Here, therapy is used to find out how perfectionism came up in the family unit and how it affected the subject as an individual.
You can try to overcome perfectionism without relying on therapy. Some things you can do on your own to help manage your perfectionism include:
  1. Note down the advantages and disadvantages of being a perfectionist. Whenever you find yourself falling back into perfectionism, take another look at the disadvantages and move on.
  2. Set achievable goals for yourself. Setting attainable goals will keep you from pursuing unattainable perfection. This way, you can achieve your goals with the resources you have.
  3. Set time limits for tasks and make sure to follow them. To avoid spending excess time trying to perform a task perfectly, create a realistic time limit and stick to it.
  4. Avoid procrastination. Concentrate on the task instead of the end product. If you can break down your job into smaller, manageable bits to complete one step at a time, you may avoid overworking.
  5. Remember that mistakes are not bad. Celebrate them.
  6. Pursue different things that matter to you and make you happy. Avoid focusing on perfecting only one thing.
So, the next time you feel perfectionism is holding you back remember it’s ok to be imperfect!
Lewis University Blog
Psychology Today
York St. John University
Pat Laurino
Intuitive Energy Healer and Psychic Medium
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