Un-perfect Is Okay!

It is likely your life experiences early in your childhood, caused you to surmise that other people valued you because of how much you accomplished or achieved. As a result, you learned to value yourself only on the basis of other people's approval.  It has left you vulnerable and excessively sensitive to the opinions and criticism of others.  To protect yourself from such criticism, early in your childhood you decided that being perfect is your only defense.

Those of us who suffer from the pitfalls of perfectionism are dealing with a number of the following negative feelings, thoughts and beliefs:

1.   Fear of Failure.  Perfectionists often equate failure to achieve their goals with a lack of     personal worth or value.

2.   Fear of making mistakes.  Perfectionists often equate mistakes with failure.  In orienting their lives around avoiding mistakes, perfectionists miss opportunities to learn and grow.

3.    Fear of disapproval.  If they let others see their flaws, perfectionists, often fear that they will no longer be a accepted.  Trying to be perfect is a way of trying to protect themselves from criticism, rejection, and disapproval.

4.   All-or-none thinking.  Perfectionists frequently believe that they are worthless if their accomplishments are not perfect.  Perfectionists have difficulty seeing situations in perspective.  For example, a straight "A" student who receives a "B" might believe, "I am a total failure."

5.   Overemphasis on "shoulds".  Perfectionists lives are often structured by an endless list of "shoulds" that serve as rigid rules for how their lives must be led.  With such over emphasis on "shoulds", perfectionists rarely take into account their own wants and desires.


Perfectionism is a double edged sword.

On one side you have a strong internal motivation to be perfect and you set excessively high unrealistic standards and goals for yourself, then whatever you accomplish you feel like it was not quite good enough.

On the other side of the sword you have the double whammy of needing to earn and maintain approval from others, coupled with the belief that others expect perfection. 

For those of us who have internalized the expectations of others, the constant intrusion of ruminative thought and self-criticism, will be our long time companions, if we don't set up some strategies to challenge those noisy little self-defeating voices that derail our dreams and ambitions, leave us frozen in place and unable to move forward, or at the very least produce high levels of emotional and anxiety provoking distress, loss of self-esteem and worthiness.

We have convinced ourselves these "chatty little buggers" know what they are talking about.  They have created the illusion they can see ahead into the future and can predict our failure and/or our humiliation and they can't wait to tell us all about it.  Perfection is an illusion that is unattainable.  I repeat, perfection is an illusion that is unattainable.


Here are some "irrational thought" busters to overcome the "chatty little buggers" in your head:



1.    I am human.  No one is perfect.  Everyone makes mistakes or has failings.


2.    The "ideal" is only a guideline or goal to be worked towards, not achieved 100%


3.    Set realistic and flexible time frames for achieving your goal


4.    Reduce the need "to get it done already" by developing a sense of patience.


5.    Make sure your goals are "realistic".  Divide your goal into doable time frames.


6.    Develop an ability to use "thought stopping" techniques whenever you find yourself 


       mentally  scolding yourself for not being good enough.  (Pay Attention!  When one of those "infernal, internal, critical chatty little buggers" attacks say loud and proud "That's Not True"  and mean it.


7.    Remind yourself you are not "super human" you are "human".


8.    Learn to accept yourself as you are, let go of any ideas of how you "should" be


9.    Love yourself, believe you deserve good things


10.  Visualize yourself as successful in all you do, even if you are not first, the best, the

        model,   the star pupil, the exemplar or the finest


11.  Focus on the process of doing an activity not just on the end result.


12.  Evaluate your success not only in terms of what you accomplished but also in terms of   

        how  much you enjoyed the task.


13.  There is value in the process of pursuing your goal.


14.  Recognize that many positive things can be learned by making mistakes.  When you make a  mistake ask yourself, "What have I learned from this experience?"  Learning is good.  Turn a  negative into a positive.

Make the decision to think of yourself as a "High Achiever" instead of a "Perfectionist".  Why?

A high achiever can be satisfied with doing a great job, even if their very high goals are not completely met.  Perfectionists will accept nothing less than perfection and almost perfect is seen as a failure.

High achievers take pride in their accomplishments and tend to be supportive of others.  Perfectionists tend to spot tiny  mistakes and imperfections in their work and in themselves, as well as in others and their work.  They hone in on these imperfections and have trouble seeing anything else and they are more judgmental and hard on themselves and on others when "failure" does occur.

High achievers tend to be pulled toward their goals by a desire to achieve them and are happy with any steps made in the right direction.  Perfectionists on the other hand, tend to be pushed toward their goals by a fear of not reaching them, and see anything less than a perfectly met goal as a failure.

High achievers can set their goals high, enjoying the fun of going a little further once goals are reached.  Perfectionists set their initial goals out of reach.  Because of this high achievers tend to be not only happier, but more successful.

High achievers can enjoy the process of chasing a goal as much or more than the actual reaching of the goal itself.  Perfectionists see the goal and nothing else.  They are so concerned about meeting the goal and avoiding the dreaded failure they  can't enjoy the process of growing and striving.

High achievers are able to bounce back fairly easily from disappointment.  Perfectionists tend to beat themselves up and wallow in negative feelings when their too high expectations go unmet.

High achievers are not afraid to fail.  Perfectionists because they place so much stock in results and become so disappointed by anything less than perfection, failure becomes a very scary prospect.  And since anything less than perfection is seen as "failure" by the perfectionist, this can lead to PROCRASTINATION.




Old Rule:  There is no room for error, you must be perfect in all things.

New Rule: Un-perfect is OK!  

New, New Rule:  I'm switching from Perfectionist to High-Achiever. (Step in the right direction!)

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Aug 15, 2012