Photo: Mike Wilson

What You Need To Know To Get Your Perfectionism Under Control

Take a deep breath, and let it go.


A couple weeks ago, I made a mistake—a mistake tiny enough not to have any serious consequences, but big enough to send me into a spiral of anxiety for the next two days. I brought up the mistake to my significant other, family members and friends—rehashing it, asking for advice, rejecting the advice I received and rolling it over and over again in my mind like an everlasting gobstopper of torture. I woke up at 3 a.m. panicking about it and even teared up about it at least twice.

Like I mentioned, the mistake wasn’t actually that big of a deal. It was a tiny square on the roll of toilet paper that is life. Most likely, I would be the only person who even noticed the mistake. But none of this negates that reality that it absolutely controlled my thoughts for days.

If you haven’t already figured it out, I’m a perfectionist.

For as long as I can remember, my perfectionist ways have had some seriously tangible benefits. It’s pretty easy to understand why. Perfectionism is a great tool for achievement because it pushes you to do better than you would otherwise. My tendencies certainly helped me in school and many times as an employee.

But there’s a dark flip side to this payoff. Perfectionism is a constant, painful awareness of your imperfectness. The futility of striving for perfect, the realization that you have failed in the past and will probably fail again and the inability to consistently measure up to your very unrealistic standard are collectively what makes perfectionism a vicious, extremely stressful cycle.

But it’s time for all of us to end the self-flagellation. Here are the strategies I’m currently implementing to try and escape my personal mental panic room—aka perfectionism. Try them out if you want to get your perfectionism under control, too!


Strategy #1: Look for the positive.

As a perfectionist, this first strategy definitely won’t come naturally. While you may think your performance was awful, try and focus on at least one thing you did well.


Ein Beitrag geteilt von Linda Tol (@lindatol_) am


Strategy #2: Alter your thoughts.

When you find yourself descending into a mental tailspin of self-criticism, mentally tell yourself to S.T.O.P. Reframe your thoughts into something more positive such as, “It’s ok; Everyone makes a mistake once in a while. Nobody is beating you up over it but yourself.”


Strategy #3: Be your own friend.

If your friends talked to you the same way that you talked to yourself, they definitely would not be your friends. Think about what you’d say to your bff if she or he were in your shoes, and say that to yourself instead!


Strategy #4: Lower your standards.

If you have higher standards for yourself than you do for anyone else in your life, it’s time to bring those standards doooown. What would you expect from someone else in your situation? If you’d be happy with your performance if it had come from someone else, then give yourself the recognition you deserve.


Strategy #5: Focus on action.

Clearing out every inch of your brain for negative self-talk isn’t going to improve your abilities at all. So, do something useful instead, and ask yourself what’s one thing (just one!) that you can improve for your next performance. Focus on taking positive, constructive action to work on that thing!


Preview image via Instagram @lucettevanbeek