How to Cultivate a Healthier Relationship with Your Perfectionism

Perfectionism. It’s a gift—and a curse.

On the one hand, you’re a high performer. You strive to be your best in all situations, and you usually deliver. You are always trying to improve and better yourself.

But, at what cost? The self judgment, the endless comparisons, the self deprecation and loathing, the shame, the desire for approval, the endless mental angst. When it comes down to it, NOTHING is ever good enough for a perfectionist. While you’re often accepting of others’ flaws, you are incredibly hard on yourself. That’s a tough way to live.

According to the American Psychological Association, perfectionism is on the rise. So, how can we cultivate a healthier relationship with perfectionism and hold on to the special drive to succeed without getting sucked in to its damaging effects?

There is such a thing as a healthy perfectionist. It’s not easy, but it’s all about building a better relationship with your perfectionism. I don’t like to consider perfectionism something you need to recover from. It’s something to mindfully embrace and use to your advantage. Here are a few of the positive aspects to being a perfectionist and the journey that comes along with them.

How to Cultivate a Healthier Relationship with Your Perfectionism

You learn how to be more empathetic and compassionate to others.

Once you’ve struggled with perfectionism and its insatiable appetite, you tend to be more compassionate to others.

Even if you do not always treat yourself with the most kindness, self-aware perfectionists often feel more empathetic to the struggles of others. They tend to be very kind and understanding when others struggle (although not always, we’re all different). The real challenge is turning that around on yourself, which is why it is so wonderful that…

You really get to dig deep into the concept of self-love.

Perfectionism is a journey towards self-discovery. You get the opportunity to acknowledge the darker sides of yourself that others are rarely confronted with. If you can see those shadowy sides, admit that they exist and still love yourself unconditionally, you are setting yourself up for a much richer, more fulfilling exploration of yourself.

Take your biggest flaw, one that you simply cannot perfect, and use it as an opportunity to practice self-love. Even if you find that you get a lot of opportunities to practice with all of your perceived flaws, that just means your capacity for self-love is getting stronger and stronger. You are making yourself so much better and more in tune with yourself for all that work.

You can figure out your life path more easily.

Perfectionists tend to dive head first into the things they really care about. If you find yourself stressed about making something absolutely perfect to the extreme, pause. Why are you so invested and excited about this project? What more does this tell you about your passions?

If you think this is something new and interesting, take a step back, sink out of your head and into your roots, embrace the fact that you will make mistakes—perfectly imperfect ones—and get excited that you’ve found something you care about so much.

Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of your perfectionism all the time, focus on the incredible benefits you get to reap. All you have to do is embrace your perfectionism rather than loathe it. Perfectionism doesn’t have to be a negative trait. It’s not something you have to eradicate entirely. It’s a trait to be mindful of.

You are incredible, your flaws included. So work on being the imperfectly perfect version of you, because no one else can do it quite so well.

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Images via Thinkstock.

47 comments

Elizabeth M
Elizabeth M2 days ago

many thanks for sharing noted

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Joan E
Joan E3 days ago

Truth be told, I could use a little MORE perfectionism.

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Maria P
Maria P3 days ago

thanks for posting this

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Leo C
Leo C3 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Naomi Dreyer
Naomi Dreyer3 days ago

Hmmmm. Also being a perfectionist takes a lot of time and things don't get finished.

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Leo C
Leo C5 days ago

Thank you for posting!

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Mona M
Mona M5 days ago

Perfectionisme could be a reaction against the present increasing chaos and an attempt to maintain harmony. There is always a reason behind people attitudes, even when they seem to be extreme. Thank you.

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Leo C
Leo C7 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara8 days ago

You don't need to be OCD. But you do need a positive and discriminating outlook.

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara8 days ago

Having a perfectionist outlook is a good thing. It means that when you are madly busy you don't overlook the details you need urgently. Then when you can take a break, you look around and see all the non-essential housework has now piled up to the point where it is essential. Now you tackle it and get it all out of the way before life gets busy again, so the next challenge won't catch you unprepared. I believe in doing the work when you have the time.

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