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In the first part of this blog we discussed which traits may belong to a person who is considered to be a perfectionist. In this second part we shall be discussing some tips which can help a someone overcome perfectionism.

  • Learning how to reframe thoughts.

It might be a good idea to practice replacing self-critical or perfectionistic thoughts with more realistic statements such as ‘Making a mistake does not mean that I am not good at what I do’, ‘Everyone makes mistakes from time to time’  or ‘ It’s okay if some people don’t like me because no one is liked by everyone.’ Practicing these supportive statements regularly and making a habit out of saying positive thoughts out loud may help crowd out the negative self-talk.

 

  • Compromising

Try asking yourself what level of imperfection would you be willing to tolerate? This might help you set more reasonable standards which you would then be willing to accept. This might be a useful exercise to do with someone who knows you well and whom you trust, as lowering standards might cause a lot of anxiety at first.  This exercise would need to be done gradually, but is a great tool for dealing with black-and-white thinking.

 

  • Widening your perspective

Perfectionists tend to spend a lot of time worrying about details which may create further expectations. It might be helpful to ask yourself whether this will still matter in a week’s time, a month’s time or next year, and whether it should be taking more time than other important things in your life. Thinking about the worst case scenario and discussing it with a friend or relative may sometimes help you to tone down the catastrophic thoughts.

 

  • Exposure

Making mistakes might be a great fear of people who strive for perfection. Facing this fear in a gradual manner may eventually prevent you from engaging in excessive behaviours designed to prevent imperfection. Some examples might be to check a school document or work presentation only once or twice after completing it, rather than spending a whole afternoon re-reading it over and over again.  Another example might be to practice telling people that you need help in a task and actually allowing them to help you or, trying to delegate some of your work to others.

 

There are many other examples of how somehow can slowly overcome perfectionism. This does not mean that one should change into someone they don’t recognise, or decide to be careless or lazy. This is about allowing yourself to accept that there is probably no such thing as perfection and that doing things to your best ability is good enough!

 

 

 Claire Borg is a gestalt psychotherapist at Willingness. She works with adolescents and adults. She has a special interest in mental health. She can be contacted on claire@willingness.com.mt.