A brief recap of what I have been discussing for the past 3 weeks…. I defined what perfectionism is which is a set of self-defeating thought patterns that push you to try to achieve unrealistic or unobtainable goals… I also differentiated between negative and positive  perfectionism which are just to mention a few, negative perfectionist sees mistakes as signs of unworthiness on the other hand positive perfectionist sees mistakes and failures as part of growth.  I also discussed the effects of negative perfectionism which are: procrastination, missed opportunities and so on….  I also mentioned causes of perfectionist behaviour in ourselves, root causes are mostly from childhood  If you missed any of these series you can click on the links below:

The cries of a perfectionist (part 1)
The cries of a perfectionist (part 2)
The cries of a perfectionist (part 3)

Today I am wrapping up this series by discussing ways to manage or avoid extreme perfectionism

what are they?

1. Surrender:

When we surrender to the moment, to change, to messiness or imperfection, we allow the seeds of excellence to grow. Excellence is that drive toward raising ourselves up to our own highest good thereby allowing our unique gifts, talents, and personalities to benefit the highest good of all.

Excellence, unlike perfectionism, is about lovingly pushing ourselves to act, think, relate, and create from the highest part of ourselves.

Perfection is about controlling the outcome in order to receive love and acceptance. It’s all about fear. Surrender is about accepting where we are at in any moment, knowing that we are a work in progress.

  1. Be aware of your motivations for perfection

Ask yourself this question why are you a perfectionist? after reviewing all the traits I mentioned earlier on in the last 2 series… look at the 3 common motivations for being a perfectionist… maybe to be a better person,  to be the best you can be and to do things right by others

Knowing these motivations serve to remind yourself of why you strive for perfection to begin with, after which you can use them to cross-check with your behaviour and see if your perfectionist tendencies actually serve you or pull you away from your vision of yourself.

For example, say you are a perfectionist because you want to achieve your best results in everything you do. Say you are preparing a presentation and you can’t seem to finish it because you keep finding things to edit. More specifically, these things you keep mulling over are little, nitty-gritty things, which don’t make a difference to the overall output.

It helps to review these questions: How does your obsession with trivial details help you to achieve your best results in life? Could you actually spend that time, elsewhere, in a more meaningful manner that enables you to achieve better results?

Make sure your perfectionism doesn’t turn into a self-sabotaging tool.

  1. Recognize that ideals are directions, not absolutes

Neurotic perfectionists tend to beat themselves up incessantly over little setbacks and thwarts to their plans. They tend to see them as “failures”; in their minds, they think: “If I don’t achieve my goal or vision, that means I’ve failed. There is no point in doing any of this anymore. I have no way to rectify this situation. It’s a lost cause.”

As a perfectionist, you should recognize that your ideals are directions to work towards and not absolutes which you need to achieve. It is not your ideals that are the problems here; it’s your attachment towards them which need correction.

Ideals are very good. Whatever ideals you have, continue to hold them, they drive you in your growth. Commit yourself to said ideals and goals. At the same time, don’t attach yourself to them. They are meant as to inspire, guide, and bring the best out of you, not to make you feel bad about yourself. If you ever feel bad about not achieving a certain ideal or goal, review your attachment with it, and let go of this attachment.

  1. Respect and love yourself

Are you beating yourself over something that could have been better? Let go of all these negative thoughts in your mind. You did what you could within that particular context. Recognize you are an individual with your own rights and integrity versus subjecting yourself to all the self-abuse and self-depreciation. Treat yourself with the respect you deserve.

  1. Focus on the big picture

Overcoming perfectionism requires you to start seeing the forest for the trees. Use prioritization techniques such as Time Management to aid you in identifying tasks which you should do and tasks which you should abandon altogether. For the tasks which you need to be involved in, use the 80-20 principle to help you gauge when to stop. Whenever a particular task is taking too much of your time, it is good to ask yourself ‘Does this matter in the bigger scheme of things?’. If it doesn’t, chuck it.

  1. Focus on what can be done

Forget about mistakes that were made in the past which you cannot do anything about. Learn from them and move on; obsessing over them does not change anything at all. Realize that the time you spend thinking about your mistakes actually takes you away from time which you can have spent on more productive things instead! Stop worrying about things that are not within your control, such as the future, past   and perceptions by others. Plan for contingencies (proactive) but beyond that, do not waste your time mulling over it.

  1. Delegate and let go

Have faith in other people’s abilities and delegate tasks to them. If they do not seem to be doing a particular task right, teach and help them instead of taking over entirely. Teach a man how to fish so there is more fish for everyone, rather than doing all the fishing yourself and limiting the total output.

  1. Enjoy the entire process

The process is the longest part of achievement – enjoy it! Find ways to lighten it up – learn to laugh at yourself, take things positively, rest/eat/sleep/play when it is time to, take part in enriching recreational activities, do not deprioritize your social gatherings or time off from work.

  1. Celebrate the victories and progress made

Give yourself a pat in the back for everything that you do, regardless of the outcome. Reward yourself or other people if a good job is done. Give credit where credit is due. Wholeheartedly celebrate your victories when they come along—you have rightfully earned them!

10. Constantly remind yourself that buying into myths of perfection will hurt you and your life.

By watching too many movies, listening to too many songs and just taking in what the world is telling you it is very easy to be lulled into dreams of perfection. It sounds so good and wonderful and you want it. But in real life it clashes with reality and tends to cause much suffering and stress within you and in the people around you. It can harm or possibly lead you to end relationships, jobs, projects etc. just because your expectations are out of this world. It’s helpful to remind yourself of this simple fact. Whenever you get lost in a perfectionist head-space you remind yourself that it will cause you and your world harm. And so it becomes easier to switch your focus and thought patterns because you want to avoid making unhelpful choices and avoids causing yourself and other people unnecessary pain.

Food for thought

our imperfection gives us room to grow and become better people… There is beauty in the cracks in the wall, there is beauty in imperfection CELEBRATE OUR IMPERFECTIONS