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I am an Imperfectionist!

Did you spot the error? Being perfect is impossible so why put yourself through the stress to achieve what you think it is? Being 'good enough' is fine! Children survive very well with 'good enough' parents. So, if you are stuck in the perfectionist cycle, try changing your thinking...

1. Get real. Accept that you are a fallible human being, who cannot ever lead an mistake-free existence.

2. Instead of demanding you be perfect, demand that you be imperfect. It makes more sense for you to think “Being human, I will make mistakes” rather than, “I don't care that I'm human, I must not make mistakes.”

3. Aim to do well but when you don’t, unconditionally accept yourself. When you make mistakes, think “I'm sorry I slipped up, but I'm human so what can I do to learn from this mistake without beating myself up?”

4. The bottom line is 'be perfect at being imperfect.' When you do, happiness is more likely.

5. You will still aim to do well, for giving up perfection does not cause you to give up your desire to do well.

6. You will find yourself more relaxed, peaceful and able to enjoy the ride. In other words, free from anxiety, you'll be on the royal road to relaxation and happiness.

7. You will feel pride in your successes and accomplishments without shame and embarrassment about your less accomplished moments.

Live It.

Here are five practices that can help you loosen the grip perfectionism has on you. Remember, breaking any habit and building a new one takes time and effort.

1. Identify three situations in which you fall into the trap of thinking you have to be perfect. For each, write what anti-perfection message you will give to yourself so as to confront the situation without perfectionism.

2. Use your mistakes as opportunities to learn and improve. When you make a mistake, say to yourself “I’m sorry I made a mistake, but I'm human. What can I do so I am less likely to make that mistake again?”

3. When you do find yourself making a mistake, remind yourself to nevertheless unconditionally accept yourself. Remember that your mistakes are merely your oranges, not the whole fruit salad!

4. Purposely make one mistake a day - wear socks that don’t match, make a spelling or mathematical error, or get a well known politician's name wrong. Observe that no cataclysmic consequences befall you. Just do not make mistakes that put you in danger, break the law, or violate your own ethical or moral standards!

5. Notice when others make mistakes. Note the “normalcy” of this and remind yourself that you are not a special case such that fallibility is forbidden to you.

Going Forward

You can have the best of both worlds - you can strive to do well, working to create mini-masterpieces across the canvas of your life; in the other, you can be realistic, refusing to expect yourself to be perfect and forgiving yourself when you make mistakes. In combining the two, you merge passion with peace of mind, a formula for happiness if there ever was one.

Make the effort to let go of your perfectionism. You are worth it.

PS Did you spot the error? As a recovering perfectionist, I am going to leave it...

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