Overcoming Perfectionism Self-Help Video Course

Perfectionism involves setting exceptionally high and often unrealistic standards that we relentlessly strive to achieve. If we’re a perfectionist, our sense of self-worth is often tied to our accomplishments and achievements. When we don’t accomplish our goals and reach our high standards, we damage our self-worth. And even if we do achieve what we’ve set out to do, we’re rarely satisfied. Instead, we dismiss our accomplishments, thinking we should have done even better, and reset our standards even higher.

In this self-help course for perfectionism, we’ll learn how to overcome perfectionism by setting more reasonable standards that still allow us to strive for excellence. And we’ll learn to modify thoughts and behaviors that maintain perfectionism in ways that allow us to perform better, be less stressed, and feel better about ourselves.

How To Overcome Perfectionism

What’s wrong with being a perfectionist? Why shouldn’t we strive for perfection and be the best that we can? One of the challenges of overcoming perfectionism is that we associate it with achieving the best results possible, and we don’t want to give this up.

But perfectionism is more than this and consists of a few components. The first is setting and striving for exceptionally high standards, and this, in itself, isn’t problematic. There’s nothing wrong with striving for excellence, but often the standards we set for ourselves aren’t just high but unrealistically high and, in some cases, impossible to achieve. Yet, we still relentlessly strive to meet them.

Or these high standards make us feel so much pressure and stress or anxiety that we procrastinate and find it hard to get started, or we give up too quickly. Our standards and the extent to which we expect ourselves to work to reach them are rigid and inflexible. We avoid reassessing our goals and standards to make them more reasonable or manageable as any concessions we make are seen as failure.

Perfectionism puts us in a no-win situation. When our self-worth is tied to achievements, falling short of our high standards isn’t just disappointing; it damages our self-esteem. We become very self-critical and beat ourselves up, contributing to feelings of inadequacy and sometimes leading to depression. Even when we meet our high standards, we’re rarely satisfied. We downplay our achievements and raise the bar even higher, so achieving our goals doesn’t really boost our self-worth because we tend to dismiss our successes. It’s a cycle that leaves us constantly chasing an unattainable ideal.

Perfectionism can arise in any aspect of our lives, such as work, relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, cleaning and organizing, or arranging appearance, diet, and exercise, and so on. For some people, perfectionism is limited to one or two areas of their life, and some people are perfectionists about almost everything.

A good way to start challenging our perfectionism is to look at its benefits versus costs. The benefits include expecting high standards from ourselves, which we often achieve as perfectionism can make us very disciplined with a strong work ethic. It can lead to recognition and rewards in professional or academic settings, and it helps us stay organized and extremely prepared. It just feels good to do things better than others.

Now the costs of perfectionism: most importantly, our self-worth tends to be largely dependent on accomplishments and achievement. We set unrealistic expectations. Our exceptionally high standards can be unattainable, and we have overly rigid and inflexible goals and standards. It can lead to procrastination and cause stress and anxiety due to the fear of failure or making mistakes, and our need to constantly push ourselves. Perfectionism is associated with heightened self-criticism, which damages self-esteem, confidence, and motivation. It negatively impacts our well-being and can lead to burnout, depression, OCD, eating disorders, substance abuse, and so on.

But there’s a way to experience many of the benefits of perfectionism while eliminating most of the costs. Instead of perfectionism, we can strive for excellence, still maintaining high standards but setting challenging yet attainable goals. If we realize we’ve set our standards too high, we’re able to reassess things and come up with more reasonable and achievable goals. This is harder than expected; I might have to settle for good enough. If things are going really well, we don’t need to limit ourselves and can just keep going. This is going well; I’m going to keep striving for more.

We regard setbacks as opportunities for learning and growth rather than as a trigger for harsh self-criticism. “I didn’t reach my goals, but that’s okay. What can I do differently next time to increase my chance for success?” We can be proud of our accomplishments and celebrate our successes rather than just dismissing them and striving for even more. “I’m proud of what I accomplished; I’m going to take some time to enjoy this and celebrate with some friends.”

We can still work hard but also balance our striving with other areas of life, which helps us find meaning and worth in things beyond how well we performed and what we’ve accomplished, reducing our need for perfection. We don’t need to always strive for excellence; if we have something we really care about, it’s often rewarding to take pride in our work and do as good a job as we can. “I really want this presentation to go well, so I’m going to keep fine-tuning it and practice it in front of my friends.”

But in many aspects of life, it’s fine to relax our standards from excellence to good enough and give ourselves a break from relentless striving. “This is good enough; I could spend a few more hours on it, but no one will notice any difference, so I’m just going to go to bed. And for things we don’t enjoy or find a nuisance and where the results don’t matter that much, we can even prioritize goals like getting things done quickly without much pain or effort over the quality of our work. “Let’s get this done as quickly as possible so I can go watch some TV.”

The first steps in reducing perfectionism are to realize that we can make our standards more reasonable and flexible without sacrificing performance and results. “I’ll strive for excellence, but I’ll settle for good enough and still might come close to perfection.” And to start giving ourselves credit when we succeed. “I did a really good job, and I’m proud of myself,” without beating up on ourselves if things don’t go as well as we’d hoped or expected. “That didn’t go so well, but it’s okay; it doesn’t mean I’m a failure, and I can always learn from it.”

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them on the YouTube video page.