The main cause of perfectionism stems from a belief of not being good enough. For some, this might manifest in a certain area (e.g., not being smart enough). For others, this belief of not being good enough could be pervasive across various components of one’s life. When someone has the belief that he/she/they are good enough, there is an invitation for flexibility, forgiveness, and empowered growth.
Perfectionism results in all-or-none, narrow thinking: we go big or we go home. Since perfectionism stems from insecurity, the next time the belief of not being good enough is triggered, the all-or-none mindset is likely to kick in unless addressed.
Suggestions to let go of perfectionism:
1. Give yourself grace and space in terms of creating a goal-range.
For instance, instead of having an absolute deadline, create a realistic and attainable deadline. When you give yourself a goal-range, you give yourself the flexibility of self-compassion and the accountability of responsibility. In other words, you give yourself room to breathe.
2. Question the narrative in your head again and again and again.
Perfectionism tends to lend itself to critical self-talk if we miss the mark. This self-talk can reflect all-or-none and/or defeatist language: “If I don’t get this job, I suck.” “If my publication doesn’t get accepted, I give up.” It is hard to build a healthy self-esteem when we don’t give ourselves room to learn, stumble, and grow.
3. Forgiving yourself entails accepting yourself: flaws and all.
We all have different gift(s), challenges, and aptitudes as humans. When we accept where we are in the moment, we can choose if we would like to do better the next time. Forgiving yourself also entails refraining from comparing yourself to others. Everyone has a different story leading to their accomplishments. Some things may indeed come a bit easier (or harder) for others; yet, we are not privy to their journey/the practice they have put along the way. Finally, forgiving yourself reflects changing the narrative of not being good enough to I am enough.