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Perfectionism: Is It Affecting Your Life?

When perfectionism works:


  1. When you have parents with high expectations and you still live with them
  2. When you have others in your life with high expectations and you can’t avoid them
  3. When you have a critical boss and you need the job
  4. When you need to make As or get into the college of your choice
  5. When you need something done exceptionally well
  6. When you need to be organized
  7. When you want praise for doing an excellent job
  8. When you need to incredibly detail oriented

When perfectionism doesn’t work:


  1. When you can’t let go of an error you made
  2. When people begin taking advantage of your good work ethic
  3. When your mate decides they don’t need to help because they know you’ll do it
  4. When you continually monitor yourself, making adjustments and now you are never at peace
  5. When you become a worry wart 
  6. When you don’t like yourself because you can only see the flaws
  7. When you never have a sense of accomplishment because “it could’ve been better”
  8. When people sense you only like yourself when things are “perfect” therefore you don’t really like yourself
  9. When your kids don’t help you because you’d rather do it yourself so it will be done right.
  10. When you make other people feel “not good enough” 
  11. When the pressure to be perfect makes you crack

What can you do to help your perfectionism?


  1. Start doing activities designed to lower the noise in your mind. Yoga, meditation, listening to music, walking in nature, and biofeedback.
  2. Make a list of what your expectations are. Maybe you don’t even know what your expectations are. Start paying attention and journaling your stressful thoughts. “I think I should workout every day.” “I believe my house should never be a mess.” Then ask, “Is this realistic? Is this necessary?” Really look, don’t be surface level here.
  3. Do a tiny bit less. Workout four days a week instead of every day. Allow yourself to get a lower grade in your worst class. Answer your texts a bit slower. Work a half hour less. 
  4. Create a community around yourself of “non-perfectionists”. Study these people. Did their moms not make them wear makeup? Does their boss let them do less? Do they let their house get messy and clean it only on the weekends? Watch them and learn.
  5. Try the technique called “opposite action” a few times just to show yourself what it’s like. Go to the grocery store in your pajama pants. Leave work early for once. Finish the painting and send it off rather than over analyzing it. Wear a sweatshirt to work or a party when you would’ve dressed up. When you do the technique, “opposite action” it trains you to see that nothing bad happens when you don’t do your perfectionistic routine! It’s okay!
  6. Do a full history with your therapist about how your perfectionism started. When is your first memory of it? What did perfectionism do to help you as a child? Can you see now that perfectionism is a defense you created to survive?
  7. Practice non-dual thinking. Nonduality is a way of seeing the world where you realize that the way things are is the exact way they should be, right now, given the variables. All things are already perfect. You don’t need to fix anything. You are whole. But you are going to have to really look and do a genuine inquiry without your perfectionism glasses.

Keep in mind the quote, “Perfectionism is the highest form of self abuse.” I’m not sure who said it, but it really does put things in perspective.

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Free Clear Mind Therapy provides in-person therapy in Fishers & Indianapolis and online therapy across Indiana. Specializing in anxiety therapy for teens, adults, and kids.

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