5 Ways to Ease Unhealthy Perfectionism
“Perfectionism, in psychology, is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high performance standards, accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.” ~ ~Wikipedia
If there was a book on the art of being perfect would you buy it? It seems we live in an age of striving perfectionists; the need to be validated or accepted without judgement is driving people to exhaustion. This is having a sweeping impact on mental health and in particular on the younger generation which raises concerns on this growing issue.
I have been interested to write about this topic due to my work with both young people and clients who frequently carry the rather familiar burden of anxiety and depression. No longer seen as a taboo topic but very much mainstream and often connected to not meeting their own obsessive standards.
Research suggests the increase in social media platforms are contributing, certainly in the younger generation which are often distorted realities of people’s lives in which many feel they have to live up to. The pressure to have the perfect body is heavily pushed through mainstream media which we know has been happening for decades. Investigation also discovered that the modern way young people are measured for their academic ability is fuelling this epidemic.
Unhealthy perfectionism is often disguised in more prominent behaviours such as anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), depression and low self-esteem. On a deeper level there is a fear of being judged, rejected or a need to be in control for fear of powerlessness. Unconsciously there is a pressing need to feel worthy and validated by others and the thought of being rejected can be a nightmare for a person who bears such low self-belief. If this sounds familiar, how can you be kinder to yourself? Integrating a little acceptance of where you are at can help you to change your habits and behaviours and bring relief to you and those who may be affected too. Gentle conscious changes will make an impact at a deeper level.
“Managing our mind should be as habitual as breathing”
Whilst some people may be in the bracket of benefiting from professional support, most of us can ease the pain and relief of this unconscious strain by changing behaviours and re-organising habits.
Here are some tips which I hope will be helpful to anyone who resonates reading this:
1. Let go of people’s opinions – There is no scientific formula to being perfect because each person perceives their model of the world in individual ways. We are all unique due to our own personal esteem, perceptions, truths, beliefs and values. It’s impossible to satisfy every person’s opinion of us because of this individual filter we each have. However we can program ourselves to be less judgmental as we work to improve our inner world and the more good we see in ourselves, the more we see the best in others.
2. Dig deeper; If you find yourself getting tangled up in destructive patterns of behaviour ask yourself these questions:
“What’s the worst that can happen if someone judges me?”
“What’s the worst possible outcome if I don’t achieve XYZ?”
“What’s the worst that will happen if I don’t wear makeup today?”
When you explore the deeper root cause of your behaviour, you will likely find that everything is ok and you’re not going to disappear or cease to exist! Really it’s no one else’s business what you decide is best for you at the time.
3. Love yourself as you are – likely you have heard this many times but it is important that you enhance your within, to change your without. When you practice daily positive self-talk, you will shift your reality in miraculous ways and people will be different towards you.
4. Trust – Trust and self-belief is a powerful attitude if you can learn to trust your decisions and have faith in others. When you trust, you let go of needing to control. Everything is always ok no matter what the outcome of something because you learn to problem solve situations as they come up. If you go back to no.2 you can use the questions to guide you along with the art of living with more trust in your own decisions and tuning in to your emotional compass.
5. Uplift your mind – being kind to others and operating from your heart is one of the most powerful ways to boost your self-esteem. If you can improve this by 1% a week, you will notice a difference in mood and mindset. When we do altruistic things for other people it opens up our heart allowing more good feelings to come in. The better you feel, the less you will feel the need to strive for validation and acceptance from others. In most cases you will be setting a wonderful example to others. No one can deny that doing a good deed brings improved inner equilibrium and a happier mindset.
If you think you might need a little extra help, get in touch to book a free 30 minute consultation with me, good luck! <3