Updated: Nov 13
Perfectionism is a double-edged sword, driving us to excel while also becoming a source of unrelenting stress and self-doubt. Many of us carry this trait from childhood, where the roots of perfectionism often take hold. In this blog post, we'll explore the origins of perfectionism, help you recognise it as an old pattern, and provide strategies to cope with it, particularly in a work setting. Most importantly, we'll emphasise that our worth is not determined by what we do, but by who we are.
Perfectionism often begins in childhood, shaped by external expectations and the desire to please. Whether it's pressure from parents, teachers, or society, striving for perfection becomes a way to gain approval and acceptance. Over time, this need to be flawless can evolve into a deep-seated belief about our self-worth being tied to achievement.
Perfectionism tends to resurface throughout our lives, especially in high-stress situations or when we set exceptionally high standards for ourselves. To recognise it as an old pattern, pay attention to signs like excessive self-criticism, the fear of making mistakes, and an unwavering focus on the end result rather than the process. If you notice these tendencies, it's a clue that your inner perfectionist might be at play.
Self-Compassion: Practice self-compassion by treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding you'd offer a friend. Understand that making mistakes is part of being human, and it doesn't diminish your worth.
Reframe Mistakes: View mistakes as opportunities for growth and learning. Embrace them as a chance to improve, rather than as failures.
Set Realistic Goals: Adjust your expectations to be more achievable and aligned with your abilities. Recognise that aiming for excellence is commendable, but demanding perfection can lead to burnout.
Embrace Imperfection: Understand that no one is perfect, and that's perfectly fine. Embrace the beauty of imperfection as it makes you unique and relatable.
In a professional context, perfectionism can be both a motivator and a hindrance. To manage it effectively:
Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries for your work and personal life to prevent overcommitting and reduce the pressure to be perfect at all times.
Seek Feedback: Openly seek feedback from colleagues or superiors to gain perspective and avoid feeling solely responsible for the outcome.
Prioritise Self-Care: Dedicate time to self-care to manage stress and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Focus on the Process: Shift your focus from the end result to the process of your work. Value the journey, learning, and growth that each task offers.
Ultimately, it's crucial to remember that our worth is not determined by our achievements or the absence of mistakes. It's inherent in who we are as individuals. Perfectionism can be a relentless taskmaster, but by recognising its origins, practicing self-compassion, and embracing our imperfections, we can break free from its grip and lead more fulfilling, authentic lives. In the end, it's not what we do, but who we are, that truly defines our worth.