Wanting things to be perfect seems like a reasonably good thing to pursue. Especially in today's world where you see the media shout about people's or organisations' flaws and failures on the front pages. Who could blame you for wanting to make your own corner of the world as perfect as possible? This is how you justify the perfectionist trap. If you strive for things to be perfect, you feel like you have better order and better control. This is simply an illusion. Perfectionism doesn't actually give you any further control of the uncertainty of this world.
Healthy perfectionism is when you strive for reasonable and realistic standards that lead to a sense of self-satisfaction and enhanced self-esteem. Neurotic perfectionism goes overboard with excessively high standards and is driven by fear of failure or of disappointing others. In a way it's normal to want everything to be perfect in your world, but it's when you start to expect things to be perfect that things go a bit out of hand. Some of the common traits of a perfectionist include:
Does this sound like fun? I don't think so. Being stuck in the perfectionist trap makes you experience more distress, anxiety and even depression. When you fail to achieve your perfect standards you feel guilt and disappointment which leads to low self-esteem. So isn't it time you got out of this nasty trap which does no good?
The way to get out is to retrain your brain out of your overly perfectionist thoughts and to put positive habits in place to help you focus on the good whilst accepting the imperfections. Here are three steps to help you to start retraining your brain out of the prefectionist trap.
Here's an example of how to put this exercise to work - and yes this is my own personal experience!
There are several other activities and exercises that can reinforce the positive effects of retraining your brain, and help you let go of your neurotic perfectionistm. Personally, the tactics I've outlined below are the ones which I have found most effective in maintaining my perfectionism at a healthy level.
It's time you crossed the border to a healthier type of perfectionism too. Yes it will be an ongoing journey and you might need to work hard, especially at the beginning. But the more you practice your new thoughts and habits, the easier it will be to get out of the perfectionist trap and stay out of it. Remember, happiness isn't about being perfect but about accepting yourself just the way you are. Let go of the flaws and imperfections and accept them as something that makes you human.
"Being happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect. It means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson