It’s okay to set expectations for yourself; after all, aiming high can be motivating. However,
when these standards become unrealistic and unattainable, it can lead to big problems.
Perfectionism is often born out of a fear of failure. If we’re constantly striving for an
impossible level of excellence, we’ll never be able to reach our goals.
Self esteem and perfectionism often go hand in hand. If we’re constantly putting ourselves
down for not being good enough, it’s only natural that we’ll start to believe it. This negative
thinking can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, leading us to give up before we even begin.
Luckily, there are ways to break free from perfectionism. While it may not be easy, learning
how to stop perfectionist thinking can help you lead a happier, healthier life.
What is Perfectionism?
Perfectionism is the belief that we must be perfect to be happy and successful. This often
leads to setting obscenely high standards for ourselves, which can be impossible to meet.
As a result, we may end up feeling frustrated, anxious, or stressed.
Not all perfectionists strive for perfection in every area of their lives. Some may have high
standards for appearance, while others focus on their work or relationships. Perfectionism
can manifest itself in many different ways. But it’s time to take action when it starts
negatively impacting our lives.
Some signs of full-time perfectionism are:
● Feeling like you can never do anything right
● Procrastinating out of fear of making mistakes
● Being too hard on yourself when you do make mistakes
● If it isn’t perfect, then it’s worthless
● Motivated by fear rather than enjoyment
● Avoiding new tasks or challenges out of fear of failure
How to Stop Perfectionist Thinking
Knowing you’re a perfectionist is the first step to breaking free from perfectionism! It can be
difficult to change our thinking, but it is possible with effort and self-compassion. Of course, if
you feel like your perfectionism is seriously impacting your mental health, it’s important to
seek professional help.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some things you can do to break free from
Discover Your Triggers
Our past experiences can play a big role in perfectionism. Whether it was something from
your childhood, or a past relationship, taking the time to discover your triggers can be highly
beneficial. Once you know what sets off your perfectionism, you can start to work on
managing these tendencies.
Delving into our past, depending on our experiences, can be tough. However, understanding
why you have these high standards in the first place can help with altering your mindset.
Be Kind to Yourself
This may seem self-explanatory, but treating yourself with compassion and understanding is
essential. We often expect more from ourselves than we would ever dream of expecting
from others. As a perfectionist, you may find it hard to let yourself off the hook when you
make a mistake. It’s important to remember that everyone makes mistakes, and that’s okay!
No one is perfect.
Accepting your imperfections is a vital step in mending the self esteem and perfectionism
relationship. If you do feel your perfectionist trait creeping up, try to avoid self-criticism and
instead focus on self-improvement. Take time for yourself, nurture your body, pray or
meditate – whatever helps you to relax and recharge.
Create Obtainable Goals
One of the main problems with perfectionism is that it leads us to set unrealistic goals. These
goals are often unobtainable, which means we always fall short and feel like a failure. If you
want to break free from perfectionism, learning how to set realistic goals is important.
When your targets are obtainable, you’re more likely to achieve them – which will help boost
your self-esteem and confidence. You’ll also find it easier to stay motivated, as you won’t feel
overwhelmed or discouraged by an impossible goal.
Focus on Progress, Not Perfection
It’s also crucial to remember that progress, not perfection, is what counts. As long as you’re
moving towards an obtainable goal, you’re on the right track. Keep going even if you don’t
achieve your goal overnight. Change takes time, so be patient with yourself.
Get Rid of All-or-Nothing Thinking
One of the biggest obstacles to overcome with perfectionism is all-or-nothing thinking. The
belief that things are either perfect or they’re a failure is a surefire recipe for disaster.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are healthy habits! Instead, try to view mistakes and
setbacks as learning opportunities. Use them as a chance to grow and improve. And most
importantly, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it right the first time.
Procrastination is often a perfectionist’s best friend. It is very easy to become overwhelmed
when we try to do everything perfectly and all at once. If you’re putting off starting a task
because you’re afraid you won’t do it perfectly, you’re only setting yourself up for setbacks.
The best way to avoid procrastination is just to get started. Breaking your task down into
small, manageable processes means you can better digest the individual steps. Having a
plan can also ease any feelings of stress and can make the task feel less daunting.
See the Beauty in the Everyday
Now, this last tip may seem like it has little to do with self esteem and perfectionism. But
bear with me! One of the things that can fuel perfectionism is a desire for the unattainable.
For example, we may see people with ‘perfect’ lives on social media and compare ourselves
to them – which can only lead to feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.
Instead of comparing yourself to others, try to find beauty in your everyday life. The world is
not perfect, so why should we expect perfection from ourselves? Embrace your
imperfections and learn to love yourself, flaws and all.
Final Thoughts on How to Break Free From Perfectionism
Knowing how to stop perfectionist thinking can be difficult, but it’s essential to remember that
you’re not alone. The most important thing is to be patient and take things slowly. Change
takes time, but it is possible to break free from perfectionism and welcome a more balanced
If you want a closer look into surrendering perfection and embracing the ordinary – you have
to listen to my interview with Mikala Albertson, author of Ordinary on Purpose, on my
podcast, Boldly Pursuing with Caitlin Henderson. Join us as we dig into this topic and
discover how the ordinary can actually be quite extraordinary!