Are you a perfectionist? Is the need for other people's approval a driving force in all that you do? Do you feel like nothing is ever good enough?
While some aspects of being a perfectionist are healthy, feeling the obsessive need to be perfect with everything can negatively affect our self-esteem and livelihood. Although feeling like we're not good enough maybe a familiar feeling, feeling unworthy and never good enough can be unhealthy as a lifestyle.
Perfectionism originates from our family of origin and evolves into the habitual need to be perfect all the time. The need to be perfect motivates us to work endless hours at the expense of our relationships. We lose sleep and are on edge when things don't turn out as expected. We feel anxious and out of control.
If you're a perfectionist, it's easy to over focus on outcomes... how things turn out as opposed to viewing life as a journey with valuable life lessons to learn along the way.
When we're perfectionistic, we can never really feel good about ourselves because we're chasing the impossible. As human beings, it's impossible to be perfect as we're inevitably prone to make mistakes. The more we try to create outcomes by attempting perfection, the more we're fighting an uphill battle that can't be won. Simple mistakes become emotional catastrophes and a measure of your self-worth. One small failure becomes the end of the world, instead of a simple mistake.
Luckily, there are steps we can take to transform unhealthy perfectionism into healthy self-improvement.
Step 1: Be aware of the characteristics of negative perfectionism
Learn to recognize the following aspects of unhealthy perfectionism:
· Need for control · Need to prove worthiness · Overly concerned with what others think · Need for other people's approval · Need for external validation · Inability to accept things as they are · Nothing is ever good enough
Step 2: Distinguish between healthy and unhealthy perfectionism
Not all aspects of perfectionism are bad. Here are some healthy and positive attitudes:
· Striving for excellence · Desire to do the best you can with everything you do · Aspire to reach realistic goals
Step 3: Replace unhealthy habits with good ones
Setting unrealistic goals and standards for ourselves does more harm than good as it actually sets us up for failure as we chase the impossible. We all make mistakes sometimes. Expecting perfectionism of ourselves can only cause frustration and disappointment in the long run. Replace perfectionistic tendencies with healthier habits:
· Accept your best as good enough · Replace your unrealistic aspirations with plausible, reachable goals · Realize that perfection is unattainable · Accept that some things are just out of your control and there isn't anything you can do · Know that you don't need to prove yourself to anyone or spend precious time worrying about what people think of you · Accept your mistakes. You're only human. · Strive for excellence instead of perfection
Step 4: Do something everyday to calm your mind and relieve your need to be perfect
Take some time every day to take a break and relax. Go outside, take a walk, meditate, even chatting with co-workers by the water cooler can take some of the load off. Ordinary activities can bring simple pleasures. Rarely is anything in life a "do or die" situation. Try to relax and take it one day at a time.
Healthy self esteem is about accepting our positive qualities as well as embracing our imperfections. Accept yourself as you are, let go of the need to be perfect, and you will be on your way to a much happier, stress less life!