Perfectionism is a common cognitive trap for people who are striving to be successful. But the truth is, striving to be perfect, and fearing failure is often the thing that prevents us from success. It keeps us frozen and unable to get started, anxious about making mistakes along the way and stuck in a cycle of destructive self-talk. 

It’s important to understand how perfectionism operates in people’s minds, why some are likely to get trapped by it, and what people can do to escape the perfectionism script in their minds.

Recognizing What Perfectionism Is and Isn’t

It’s great to have accountability and work towards your goals, but there’s a difference between perfectionism and high standards. Perfectionism relates to that inner critic inside that can contribute to perpetuating negative mental health. 

When you set goals for yourself that are so high, they are practically unachievable, your self-worth takes a hit. It’s common to think that this type of thinking will lead us to push ourselves harder and achieve more success, but the reality is it breaks us down. We start to feel levels of anxiety, and even depression, and may begin to avoid tasks and people for fear of failure.

The real secret to success involves learning how to control your thoughts. Once you take steps to quiet the inner critic and embrace your struggles, then your self-talk and ability to learn from mistakes become an asset that can propel you towards more productivity.

Change Harmful Thought Patterns

Perfectionism is a major contributor to low self-esteem. You can begin to address it and change that destructive inner voice in your head by taking steps to:

1- Stop the Inner Critic

2-Embrace Your Imperfections

3- Create Positive Self Talk

It may sound easier said than done, but you can take small steps to improve your own view of yourself, and what it means to fail and succeed. The only true failure is not trying to begin with. Which is exactly what unhealthy perfectionism causes. 

People develop such a fear of uncertainty and making mistakes, that they don’t even start. When it comes to people who achieve success,  it’s important to remind ourselves that every mistake and failure teaches us something to propel us forward to the next step. 

Actionable Steps To Improve Your Self Concept

It’s common to get trapped in our comfort zone because we let fear dictate our choices, but the reason it feels uncomfortable to make mistakes is that we are growing. There are several ways to address stressful and uncomfortable situations, so you can return towards progress instead of perfectionism.

The next time you want to rake yourself over the coals, take a beat to talk yourself through the situation, and understand what can be learned from it. For example;

 “This mistake happened because I was in a rush and overtired. Anybody would be overtired after trying to accomplish everything I set out to do this week.  I learned that I need to plan better and set some boundaries next time so this doesn’t happen again.”

 And make sure to recognize your achievement when you have taken those steps successfully the next time.

Final Thoughts

It’s okay to not be perfect, it’s okay to make mistakes, and there is no one way to reach success. When you’re working towards your goals, instead of trying to be perfect, be kind to yourself.

Looking to get more support as you develop better mental health strategies? Contact us today for counselling options.

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