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Conquering the Need for Perfection

by BetterSleep
May 22 • 4 min read

Many people take pride in perfectionism, but in reality, constantly thinking ‘this need to be perfect’, can be psychologically damaging. In fact, perfectionism is a risk factor for mental illness. Making you more vulnerable to anxiety disorders, depression, suicide, and more. Being motivated to succeed is positive, but if the need to be perfect causes you distress, it’s time to let go of that urge.

Why Am I So Hard on Myself?

This is a common question. Most people tend to be harder on themselves than on others, but some also struggle with the need to be perfect. Perfectionism is a need for control. If you are a perfectionist, you are highly critical of yourself, motivated by fear, have unrealistic standards, and feel depressed if things aren’t perfect in your mind.

Why some people feel so driven toward perfectionism isn’t perfectly understood. It’s largely an internal drive, like fearing failure or being judged. External factors can also play a role. Social and societal pressure can make you feel like perfection is essential.

How to Stop Being a Perfectionist

It’s worth reflecting on your own perfectionism and if you need to make changes because it could be harming your mental health. Perfectionists are more likely to struggle with anxiety and depression, have obsessive-compulsive disorder, and have suicidal thoughts. They are also more likely to be lonely, angry, frustrated, and generally unsatisfied with life.

Overcoming perfectionism can be difficult, and it might not be completely realistic. However, you can take steps and use these tips to release some of your anxiety. They can help you accept less than perfect in many situations so that you can enjoy life more.

  • Challenge your thoughts. Perfectionism is driven by fear and other negative emotions. When you start to think about what will happen if you aren’t perfect or don’t achieve a goal, question those thoughts. Will people really think less of you, or is that an irrational fear?
  • Shift your standards. Perfectionists engage in all-or-nothing thinking. If you don’t achieve 100%, you’ve failed. Start shifting that standard a little bit at a time. Aim for 95%, then 90%, or 80%.
  • Change your thinking about mistakes. As a perfectionist, you see a mistake as a failure. Try to shift your attitude and begin to see mistakes as learning opportunities that help you grow. Many things can only be learned by making mistakes.
  • Focus on the process. Perfectionists tend to put all the weight on the goal, ignoring what it took to get there. Try to focus more on the process of achieving something. Find joy in the work, effort, and learning that goes into it.
  • Break down goals. Unrealistic goals are a huge problem with perfectionism. If you have a big goal you want to meet, break it down into smaller, more realistic goals. Work toward the main goal in smaller, more achievable steps.
  • Find your meditation mantras. Meditation is a great practice for all kinds of mental health issues. Find mantras that help you let go of perfectionism—“nobody is perfect,” “perfect is unrealistic,” “mistakes are learning opportunities, not failures”—and meditate on them.

Meditation can be a powerful tool in your fight against perfectionism. Check out the guided meditations available on BetterSleep. Whether you’re new to the practice or have tried it before, you’ll find several meditations to meet your needs and help you let go of perfect.

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