We’ve all likely heard the term “perfectionist” thrown around before, maybe we’ve labeled someone or ourselves this term, or someone has used it about us. Not all perfectionism is bad, we need people to try to get as close to perfect with many things, like doctors during surgery, scientists sending people to space, or teachers teaching accurate information. I know I’d rather have the perfectionist surgeon, wouldn’t you? But some perfectionism drives us into being tired, alone, or never good enough. That’s the unhealthy perfectionism we can let go.
Whether you think you’re a perfectionist or know one, here are some steps on how to move out of perfectionism and into acceptance. Whether the perfectionism is something akin to “I have to do it right or not at all,” or “If I’m not perfect I won’t be loved,” or “I have to be perfect at work, they’re expecting the best,” there are a lot of ways to say the same thing. That thing is that “I’m not good enough as I am or something bad will happen if I’m the best.”
If you feel like an imposter or that you need to be perfect start to tell yourself “that’s neither productive nor healthy. Owning and celebrating achievements and… [recognizing that mistakes are opportunities to learn from, are] essential if you want to avoid burnout, find contentment, and cultivate self-confidence.” (Wilding) If you want to accept yourself more as human and not as some idealized version of yourself, look first to where you believe your worth and value come from, and where did you learn that? I hope this leads you to accepting a much more content state, whether that be through new affirmations, therapy, or radical acceptance of who you really are: an imperfect and respectable human being.