The root of perfectionism is believing your self-worth is based on your achievementsPerfectionism is often caused if some of these factors existed when you were growing up:
- Rigid, high parental, educational and/or cultural expectations
- Highly critical, shaming, or abusive parents or institutional figures
- Excessive praise for achievements over effort or progress
- Low self-esteem or feeling inadequate
- Believing your self-worth is determined by your achievements (again over effort or progress)
- Having highly successful, perfectionist parents as role models
Perfection becomes a way to gain acceptance, love, and praiseFor others, perfectionism is self-imposed. Even if parents didn’t expect perfection, you may have set this standard for yourself as a way of proving that you are worthy, or ‘good enough’ to be accepted or loved. This blog is a follow-on to my previous one specifically on How to Feel Good Enough – as that belief is both a major cause AND symptom of perfectionism – one feeding the other in a never-ending loop. The good news being that of you want to break that cycle there are three key steps you can take to do so.
Set REALISTIC goals
Us perfectionists can find it tough to distinguish between achievable ones and fantastical ones that will only lead to loads of angst and self-punishment when we don’t reach them (which we inevitably won’t because they were too extreme in the first place).
Failure. A bit of a dirty word for a perfectionist I know. But failure is not a measure of your worth. Failure is actually an essential part of learning, growth and development. One of the most effective ways of beating perfectionism is to learn a new skill or to do something that takes a lot of patience and trial and error – and yes getting things wrong along the way. Taking risks and stepping out of our comfort zones IS going to mean we make mistakes – get used to it – again (and yes I know I am repeating myself) it is an essential part of the learning and development process.
Accept who you ARE
Remember that if no one explicitly accepted, acknowledged or celebrated you just as you are when you were growing up, that you may have turned to achievement as the measure of your self-worth and being ‘good enough’. Consequently, probably the best antidote for perfectionism (and the most challenging) is to be brave enough to just be your unpolished imperfect self – with all of your flaws, faults and limitations.
Awareness + Action
If you seriously want to start shifting this old belief and the behaviour my request is you choose one of these three tips and practice with it consistently over the next two weeks. I would love to hear how it goes: firstname.lastname@example.org
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