Overcoming Perfectionism

Many of us assume that the better you perform, the more successful you will be. Right? It seems logical to pursue perfection, to want to be perfect. However, this type of thinking can get in the way of our success. I have never met anyone who was perfect or who did everything perfectly. If we strive for perfection and can’t achieve this, will we ever feel satisfied with our efforts or performance? Often we compare ourselves to others with thoughts of, “I am better than he/she is. What is wrong with me?” These thoughts only lead to negativity and poor self-esteem.
Fortunately, some people are happy in their skin. They are enjoying life allowing family and friends to see their imperfections. So the question remains: Why are some people able to accept their flaws while others cannot?
Because we don’t want to be rejected by our peers, we often use defensiveness as a way to protect our image of perfection. However, when we are defensive it pushes people away from us. We can become critical of others and judge them against our own values of perfection in ourselves. We continue in this vicious cycle over and over again.
I understand that this can be a difficult pattern to break. So, how do we get out of this destructive cycle in our life? I would suggest considering these principles to help.

  1. Identify the harm perfectionism brings into your life: Make a pro and con list of perfection. How has it helped you? How has it hurt you?
  2. Challenge your thoughts: Ask yourself, “Why am I doing this? Is it hurting my relationships?”
  3. Ask yourself, “What would happen if others saw my imperfections?”
  4. Accept making mistakes. We learn from our mistakes and become better people through the process.

When we continually try to be perfect, our relationships suffer; they are not based on anything genuine. Relationships are built on honesty and integrity. When we are not being genuine with others or ourselves, there is a lack of honesty or integrity to build a healthy relationship. Establishing healthy relationships allows for hope in the future and healing in the present.
To find out more about how Sunrise helps students overcome perfectionist tendencies, call us at 866-754-4807 or visit www.sunrisertc.com.
By: Kim Smith, AMHC