Perfectionism is one of the many reasons why many people experience stress. The little voice in your head that things aren’t good enough the way they are. Or, even worse, that you are not good enough and therefore need to overdeliver to compensate.
This kind of thinking makes that the negativity bias gets activated. We look for the things that are not okay instead of all the things that are already okay. On top of this, our brain gets stressed. One of the two hemispheres and its capacities is less accessible than the other.
Quite often, this is the hemisphere in which our social capacities and the overview reside. The lack of overview means that we lack a meta-position, that we can’t zoom out to see where we are at in this very moment. The lack of social capacities makes that our self-compassion – something that we are anyway very bad at – vanishes fully.
When it comes down to perfectionism, there are various types of perfectionism
Looking for excellence
The excellence seeker is longing for the best of the best. Not only in himself but also in others.
The avoider is afraid of mistakes and failure. Whereas the excellence seeker wants to stand out, the avoider wants as little attention as possible.
Being hard on yourself
Kind of an excellence seeker but only for himself. This is not per se to stand out but more related to measuring yourself in another way than others.
Perfectionism might, apart from being stressed, result in:
- Avoiding challenges
These results can not only be experienced in the perfectionist himself but also his surroundings. People around a perfectionist might experience stress or feel not good enough according to the perfectionist’s standards.
Even though perfectionism can have the above disadvantages and hindrances, it also has advantages. Research shows that many successful and influential people are perfectionists. This relates to their ambitions and driver for quality which lead to an extra boost to get to a higher level, to be outstanding.
Using the pro’s of perfectionism
For exploring the benefits of perfectionism and avoiding the downsides of it, it’s good to have two capacities:
- Being mild and full of compassion to yourself and others
- Avoiding stress or using stress techniques so that you can use your meta view and see what already is good
Some stress tools you can discover in the new video training that goes along with my new e-book. You can download it here if you haven’t done so yet.
How to let go of your perfectionism:
Be aware of what is going on. Be honest with yourself.
Ask yourself regularly some questions:
- “Is this really true?” Often we tell ourselves stories made up of (pre-)assumptions.
- “Is my goal realistic and achievable?”
- “What have I achieved so far?” See what is already good enough
- “Am I friendly and mild towards myself or harsh and requesting too much?”
- “What advice would I give to a good friend if it was about him and not about me?”
- “What would I lose and gain if something wouldn’t be 120% perfect?”
Play around with the 80/20 rule
Even though this might sound ridiculous to someone aiming for 120% of the result: try to aim for the 20% of a task that generates 80% of the result. Be perfect on this 20% instead of all way long.
Check out this blog if you don’t recall its content.