I find in my work as a therapist, so many people suffer from the same problem: perfectionism. In the book, Too Perfect: When being in control gets out of control, the authors posit that at the root of perfectionism is an “obsessive” personality at play which includes the following characteristics:
- A fear of making mistakes
- A fear of making a wrong decision or choice
- A strong devotion to work
- A need to know and follow the rules
- An inclination to worry, ruminate, or doubt
- A chronic inner pressure to use every minute productively
For an entire list, read the book- if any of the above applies to you, it’s worth the investment. With my perfectionist clients, I always find what helps them greatly is to learn to “lower their standards” for themselves. I find that perfectionists expect an A++ performance from themselves in almost everything they do, while the rest of the world is happy to cruise by at a B. Therefore, I remind perfectionists that they can afford to lower their standards significantly, leading to far more peace and calm without sacrificing the quality of what they do in a noticeable way to others.
I have had countless clients in this situation come back and tell me with great joy how much easier their lives feel after they lower their standards a bit. They find that they are happier, calmer, and are often surprised to find that the quality of their work greatly improves once they are more relaxed. It is a well-known fact in psychological literature that people perform better at any given task when they are relaxed rather than tense and stressed-out.
I’ll leave you with a few tips to let go of perfectionism and become a calmer, happier person:
- Remind yourself that you already are perfect as God/the Creator/the Universe made you and that you don’t need to DO anything else to be perfect
- Have the courage to make mistakes and learn to be okay with that
- Give yourself at least fifteen minutes a day to be as lazy as possible even if it feels really uncomfortable- it will become easier over time
- When you have a bad hair day/wear a bad outfit/spill something down your front, etc., laugh about it instead of obsessing and see what happens
- Read/buy the book, The Art of Imperfection: Simple ways to make peace with yourself