Five tips to free yourself from paralysing perfectionism

It’s the season of festivities and the hosting of family gatherings … and my stomach is already in a knot. How can I make the event perfect by meeting each person’s needs and preferences perfectly? What would be the perfect menu? How can I get everyone to relax and enjoy themselves, when I am contorted by anxiety?

It can be paralysing.

As someone with a tendency to criticise myself for not achieving self-imposed high standards, I found the advice in this article to relinquish perfectionism immensely helpful. I hope you will benefit also, by embracing excellence without the need for perfectionism.

One is myth, one is reality, says Angela Civitella, CEO and Founder of business coaching service Intinde.

Harriet Braiker says, “Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.”

Which one do you aspire to attain? Some people think excellence and perfection are the same. Actually, the best way to achieve excellence is not to demand perfection.

Maladaptive perfectionism prevents you from starting or completing things you set out to do. Your head and heart get in the way, and you’re left inactive, in perpetual inertia and with a constant drip of self-blame, and in some cases, pointing the finger at anyone and anything because you can’t accept the demons inside you that are leaving you paralyzed in the face of getting things done. There isn’t much fun there.

Here are tips to help you navigate and conquer perfectionism and make room for pursuing excellence, a much better option all around.

  1. Forget the perpetual lie you tell yourself that being perfect will make you successful. It’s not true. Hard work, great vision, knowing the right people, asking the right people for help and getting others to believe in your journey make you successful.
  2. People don’t relate well to perfectionists. Perfectionism makes the rest of us feel like there’s no common ground and no equitable human exchange. To put it mildly, it’s intimidating, and people don’t seek out people that intimidate them.
  3. There’s no power in being perfect. All perfectionism does is show how weak you truly are. Powerful people are comfortable with showing their limitations — it gives them the pulse to want to do better and better. That’s what people respect.
  4. Being perfect doesn’t increase nor decrease your self-worth. They aren’t connected. Value all of you — the good, bad and very ugly — to function in a healthy, productive and results-oriented way. If you’re focused on how it looks, rather than how it is, you’ll never get to your destination.
  5. Being perfect isn’t normal or regular. If you get caught up in being perfect, you set yourself up to think that you’re more than everyone else. A word to the wise: being perfect is an illusion; it doesn’t give you superpowers others don’t have. All perfectionism does is isolate you from participating in life and from the people around you who, if asked, would gladly help you on your journey to excellence.

People gravitate toward others’ strengths, not their weaknesses, and striving for perfection is just that — a sign of weakness. Strong people with conviction are admired and respected. People who think and work alone because they think they’re perfect and above all others end up only doing one thing: being alone.

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