Have you ever tried something new, only to beat yourself up for any little imperfection that was out of your control?
Perfectionism has a way of creeping up on us without us even realizing it. It starts slowly, but before you know it, you’re beating yourself up for every little mistake in what should be a fun and rewarding experience.
But it doesn’t have to stay that way. You can learn to let go of perfectionism and start embracing your imperfections instead.
Setting realistic expectations and goals
The truth is, perfectionism involves setting standards that are so high they either cannot be met or are only met with great difficulty—which can lead to us feeling stuck, inadequate, and unfulfilled.
Rather than trying to be perfect at something all the time, allow yourself to make missteps along the way and learn from them. Keep in mind that your journey is unique and there’s no need to rush when it comes to self-improvement.
Focus on creating realistic expectations and goals that factor in your strengths and limitations. You don’t have to be perfect—you just have to keep pushing yourself forward, even if it’s just 1%.
Accepting and celebrating your imperfections
You can’t always be perfect and productive, no matter how hard you try. In fact, over-exerting yourself to meet an ideal goal can often be counterproductive.
Recognize that while mistakes should be learned from, our imperfections do not need to be a source of frustration. Embracing our imperfections rather than trying to change them makes us less reactive and creates more space for self-acceptance.
Self-acceptance can lead to inner peace—it doesn’t mean you have to settle for the status quo, but simply acknowledge the unique combination of traits that make you who you are. With self-compassion, it is possible to see your own mistakes in a different light and accept yourself for all of your shortcomings.
Strategies to combat perfectionistic thoughts
Here are a few strategies to help combat your perfectionistic thoughts:
- Focus on meaning over perfection
When you feel defeated for not doing something perfectly, remind yourself that the goal isn’t always about being flawless. Instead, focus on what brings meaning or beauty to your learning process.
- Become aware of your perfectionist tendencies
Start by noticing the moments when you place expectations on yourself that are too high.
Pay attention to how these times make you feel and remind yourself that it’s alright to make mistakes. A mistake isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s more of an experience you can draw upon to help make the next project better than ever!
- Replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations
Before you start a project, remind yourself of your strengths and reassure yourself that everything is alright even if things don’t go as planned. Positive self-talk helps us manage our emotions and build our confidence.
Try writing out positive statements such as “I am allowed to make mistakes” or “I will get better slowly” and practice reciting them often. Allow yourself to rest in those gentle reminders and embrace them as truth instead of focusing on the mistakes or setbacks you perceive.
Pursuing perfectionism is a difficult habit to break, but it’s a necessary one if you want to get rid of the self-sabotage that comes with it. Instead of always pushing to perfect every single thing you do, start to appreciate your imperfections and the lessons they bring. Embrace the errors and the discomfort that goes hand in hand with learning new things. Celebrate your small wins, be kind to yourself, and practice self-compassion. After all, your imperfections are what make you unique and bring color and variety to the world.