Overcoming Being a Perfectionist – Removing Obstacles to Personal Growth & Training

Being a perfectionist can throw a real obstacle in the pathway of your personal growth. Plus, let’s face it, it can make you a bit of a challenge to be around at times because for a perfectionist nothing is ever well…perfect enough. People who are perfectionists are sometimes afraid to try new things for fear they will end up looking stupid or will fail in some way. Of course, there is nothing wrong with being detailed, someone who recognizes the need work on something, but the detail oriented person is generally not paralyzed into not trying in the first place, Or, who is never satisfied with the outcome. Those who are high achievers set achievable goals for themselves but, unlike perfectionists, they are willing to accept the fact that they make mistakes and can accept the risk of failure as part of the journey.

So what camp do you fall in? Here is a little reality checklist to help you figure it out:

  • Do you suffer from feelings of anxiousness or worry because something isn’t as good as you think it should be?
  • Are you overly concerned about how others view you or have a fear of being negatively judged?
  • Do you find yourself spending an excessive amount of time trying to “perfect” your work or your look?
  • Do you tend to be overly critical of yourself  and others? Do you hold yourself and them to impossibly high standards?
  • Do you have a deep desire to control things? Do you find yourself stressing out when things are not going as you planned?
  • Do you have a tendency to quit things in the early stages or never finish with something? Or find yourself making up excuses why you can’t try something new, when deep down you are afraid to fail?

If you found yourself nodding your head in agreement to at 3 or more of those questions then it is likely that you are indeed a perfectionist. So what is the cure? How can you overcome this tendency that brings so much frustration and disappointment and so little happiness and satisfaction?

Certainly this is where self awareness, recognizing when you are exhibiting this type of behavior, helps tremendously. After all, we can’t change it, if we don’t first become aware of it while we are doing it.  Another critical step is to learn to stop attaching to results.  It’s helpful to realize that the growth lies in the challenge, and not necessarily in the achievement, of our goals. This realization can be a tremendous relief in taking the pressure of yourself. Learning to accept that your willingness to try and do your best is what is really key, not the outcome.

Next comes the heavy lifting – changing your thoughts and behavior. Once you start catching yourself when you exhibit perfectionist behavior or thinking the negative thoughts associated with being a perfectionist, you are ready to start making some adjustments. If you are thinking negative thoughts, try turning it around in a more positive way. Rather than “I’m not going to try that, what if I end up looking stupid?” You could try rephrasing the thought “Why not, I’ll give it a shot and see what happens.” Then be willing to do just that. Learn to lighten up and laugh at yourself sometimes.

To recap, here is a list of some things you may want to keep handy while working your way towards  positive change:

  • Set goals and standards for yourself that are realistic and achievable.
  • Remind yourself to enjoy the process, not just the outcome.
  • Put it in perspective, is this something that you are so concerned with truly important? Will it still matter the next day, week or month?
  • Do not allow anxious thoughts or fear and failure to stop you from going after your goals (just be sure those goals even if high are realistic and achievable)
  • Start learning to view mistakes as opportunities for learning and personal growth.
  • Accept constructive feedback as something that be useful rather than regarding it as a sign of your failure to measure up.

Lastly, try to remember that it is the ego that often is the culprit in these situations.  It is one of the goals of real BodyMind Training™ and traditional martial arts to destroy the ego. This is not to say, destroy our self esteem. In fact, destroying the ego really has the opposite effect. Once we let go of the need to be appear so perfect in the eyes of ourselves and others, then we can start live a more confident life and start to relax and really enjoy it.  We can stop wasting time on things that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

So it would seem it is well worth our time to be able to shed our perfectionists tendencies, and start experiencing the freedom and joy of just being.  The pathway to personal growth is not always easy but it is certainly one worth pursuing.

About the Author Laura

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