Frustration, exhaustion, and disappointment are all caused by expectations and as a perfectionist, it can sometimes be hard to let go of the desired outcome, however, it’s time to let go and time to realize that even imperfections are perfect.
Perfectionists sometimes set unrealistic goals for themselves and others, and when those goals are not achieved they begin to feel emotions ranging from frustration and stress to disappointment.
These feelings are seemingly amplified when it’s a goal you have set for yourself and have not reached yet.
There’s nothing wrong with being a perfectionist however, in order to not be disappointed it’s absolutely crucial for you to set realistic goals and ‘mini goals’ meaning, goals that can be achieved daily, which in the end paves the way to achieving the bigger goal, only this time with less stress and disappointment.
We need to let go of perfectionism and understand that everything in this world, no matter how imperfect it may seem, is actually, in its own way perfect.
In other words, it’s perfectly imperfect. When we let go of trying to perfect everything we give way to the natural flow of life, and in turn, we learn how to be kinder to ourselves.
Here are 8 tips on how to let go of perfectionism in order to be kinder to yourself:
1. Set realistic expectations for yourself.
When you do this you minimize the chance of feeling disappointed if you can’t achieve your goal. As perfectionists, we tend to set unreasonably high standards and expectations, not only for ourselves but for others, and because these expectations are near impossible to meet, we are constantly left feeling frustrated and disappointed.
It’s very important to realize that lowering your standards and expectations is crucial to actually
Write down the long term goal and then write down smaller weekly goals which you can then tick off as you go, eventually leading you to the end goal. This helps keep your mind on track and also takes away a bit of the frustration that comes with trying to achieve something big without any guidelines.
2. Self-compassion is better than self-criticism.
Have you ever heard the saying, ‘We are our own worst critic.’? Well, the truth is, we are. We are so bent on achieving perfection that when we don’t achieve it we tend to be overly hard on ourselves. Self-criticism is not only unhelpful and harmful, it can sometimes bring about feelings of inadequacy. Everyone makes mistakes and struggles, no one is perfect. Criticizing yourself is demotivating and leads to a dark and deep pit of unnecessary emotions whereas, if we were to be kinder to ourselves when we fail or make a mistake we end up motivating ourselves to do better next time.
If you fail, don’t give up, take a rest and try again. Be kind to yourself because at the end of the day you are only human. You deserve the kindness you give to others when they make a mistake. Treat yourself to kind words, or a walk in the park so that you can regain a fresh perspective.
Instead of seeing mistakes as failures, see it as a necessary part of the process. It’s natural to make mistakes, the only way to improve and achieve something is to try, and if you fail, try again.
4. Define yourself by your character, not your accomplishments.
Perfectionists have every right to be proud of the accomplishments they have achieved however, it’s important to remember that you are not your accomplishments, you are your character. When we define ourselves by the things we’ve accomplished it always leaves us pushing to be and do more, which can sometimes lead to wanting to prove ourselves to others. This is dangerous because you can end up overworking yourself to gain approval for the things you’ve achieved.
You are so much more than your accomplishments, your value doesn’t depend on what you’ve done or whether you’re ‘the best’ at something. It depends on who you are as a person, so focus on your qualities, strengths and values rather than how many gold stars you have or achievements you’ve achieved.
5. Keep the goal in mind but remember to enjoy the process.
Perfectionists often measure their success and worth by their achievements and don’t realize that when one puts too much focus on the outcome it’s easy to miss out on enjoying the process. When taking on a new project try to remember to keep the fun alive, do it because you want to gain experience and because it’s something you’ve always wanted to do.
If you have to do something you don’t necessarily want to do, for whatever reason, pay attention to the smaller details within the process, you may learn new things about yourself and in so, you become aware of your ability to succeed even when your whole heart wasn’t in it from the beginning. Focussing on the process takes away the pressure often felt from achieving the end result and in the
6. You are just as important as the people you are constantly trying to please.
Many perfectionists unknowingly love to please people, be it their mom, dad, professor or boss, there is nothing wrong with that unless you live to please people. Being a people pleaser disconnects you from your authentic self. The key is to stay true to yourself, there is nothing more draining in life than constantly trying to please people.
Focusing on others basically means that you consider their needs and wants more important than yours which makes you minimize your needs, wants and values. Self-love and realization is the key to achieving anything in life. When you live to please others you live in a world of anxiety and when whoever you are trying to please is displeased you’re left heartbroken and disappointed, not with them but with yourself.
7. Not everything needs to be executed with perfection.
If you are a perfectionist you will agree that sometimes you expect yourself to execute almost every task you encounter in a flawless manner. Simple things like household chores become this huge thing, every dish has to be sparkling and every fold must be perfect. This sometimes leads to physical and mental exhaustion, now I’m not saying that one should slack when it comes to cleaning the house, we should absolutely take pride in home cleanliness.
I’m not a what you call an ‘extreme perfectionist’ however, I do have a weird habit of rewriting things over, and over until my handwriting is ‘perfect’, I used to rewrite college essays five times, sometimes even more because it was never ‘perfect’ and would sometimes run out of time in the exam. When I grew up I began to realize that nothing is perfect, so now if I need to use a pen to write something I just write slower, I think before I write and choose not to get fixated on the irrelevant things like how straight my I’s are anymore because there are more important issues which need my attention and focus.
8. Learn to love your imperfections.
As mentioned before, no one is perfect, not even you, we all make mistakes and we all have flaws. The key to life is learning how to love each flaw as though it were perfect. When we learn this we learn how to just be, without expectation or disappointment because we are content with the outcome of ourselves. Self-love is a vital key to achieving anything in life, it helps us gain focus through love and acceptance.
When we love ourselves unconditionally we are loving ourselves regardless of the imperfections and flaws, loving yourself unconditionally means being kind to yourself, giving yourself time to achieve something, rest when needed and motivation when things seem tough.
When we choose to let go of perfectionism we are choosing to surrender to, and accept life for all that it is, imperfections and all.