Being able to overcome perfectionism is the key to achieving balance. Letting go of a perfectionist mindset will help you reach your goals, and live a more joyful life.
If comparison is the thief of joy, perfectionism is the thief of balance. While having high standards for oneself can be beneficial, constantly striving for perfection can be detrimental to your overall well-being.
Why Having a Perfectionist Mindset is Harmful
If you have a perfectionist mindset, you might find yourself often feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or deeply afraid of failure. Maybe you procrastinate by putting things off if you feel like you can’t accomplish them perfectly right away. Or maybe in the past you have struggled with your relationship with food and exercise because a perfectionist mindset drove you to that place. I know how both of those scenarios feel all too well.
A perfectionist mindset often comes from having unrealistically high expectations of yourself. You expect yourself to either go all-in and do things perfectly, or you throw in the towel giving up on something when you realize you won’t be perfect at it. For perfectionists, we are often our own harshest critics – beating ourselves up and judging ourselves far more harshly than anyone else could.
Releasing the desire to be perfect is crucial for living a balanced life and reaching your goals. Here are three tips for overcoming a perfectionist mindset.
Three Ways to Overcome a Perfectionist Mindset
1. Ask for help when you need it.
Perfectionists of the world, repeat after me: there is nothing wrong with asking for help. “Help” is a broad term that can take on many meanings. If you are trying to learn a new skill and are having a hard time catching on, there is nothing wrong with asking someone experienced to teach you how to do it or to give you some pointers. If you are taking a class in a subject that isn’t your strong suite, there is nothing wrong with getting a tutor. If you are struggling mentally and/or emotionally with things happening in your life, there is nothing wrong with seeking counseling to help you work through it. Asking for help from others does not make you weak, just as throwing in the towel for not accomplishing something perfectly on the first try does not make you strong. You don’t have to do everything on your own, and seeking help when you truly need it can be the key to helping you move forward.
2. It’s OK to start from the bottom.
No really, it is. Even Drake wouldn’t be “here” if he wouldn’t have started from the bottom. As perfectionists, we tend to expect ourselves to pick up new habits and skills perfectly on the first try, and that is just not realistic for anyone. The only person expecting you to hit it out of the park on the first try is you. If you are taking a workout class and can’t do everything the instructor can do right away, that’s ok. If you are learning a new movement and are having a hard time getting your form down, take a step back and try again. It is ok to modify. It is ok to start where you are. Without having room to grow, you have no way to improve.
3. Love yourself, and your situation, as-is.
How many of us have said, “When I have/do/accomplish/earn/weigh X then I’ll be happy.” *insert hand raise emoji* I know I struggle with this a lot too. And it sucks. This form of thinking is so harmful because with a perfectionist mindset as soon as you accomplish whatever X is, you will immediately set your sights on having/doing/accomplishing/earning/weighing Y. It is a vicious cycle and can be a one-way ticket to anxiety city. What is happening in your life that you are proud of NOW? What do you love about yourself NOW? What do you love about your life NOW?
Homework: Grab a pen and a piece of paper, or open up a new note on your phone, and answer the three questions listed above. Take a picture or screenshot of those answers and set it as your lock screen on your phone. Look at it whenever those feelings of perfectionism start creeping in.
Related Post: 7 Ways to Increase Happiness
Remember, perfection does not exist
Like the limit of the calculus equation in Mean Girls, perfection does not exist. It doesn’t exist in fitness, it doesn’t exist in healthy eating, and no matter how curated the photos in your Instagram feed may appear (let’s be honest – everyone on Instagram is exaggerating), it doesn’t exist in anyone’s daily life. It is ok to want to grow and improve. It is ok to set standards for yourself. It is not ok to tear yourself down for the sake of chasing perfection.
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Embracing your imperfections, and treating yourself like you love yourself even when those imperfections appear is key for living a balanced life.
- Have you ever felt yourself slipping into a perfectionist mindset?
- What about your imperfect life are you proud of right now?
Les is the founder of Balanced Black Girl and the host of the Balanced Black Girl Podcast. She’s a Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, and natural beauty junkie who loves 90’s R&B, trying new skincare products, and creating recipes in the Instant Pot. She created Balanced Black Girl to provide content and experiences empowering women of color to live well.