The Perfectionist really has perfected a skill - the ability to focus. Unfortunately, she has used the skill to focus exclusively on her own automatic, rigid and irrational beliefs. Becoming more aware of these beliefs is the first step in the path toward Imperfectionism. It can be extremely useful to RECORD THESE THINKING PATTERNS. What she'll discover is that her self-talk looks something like this:
- I HAVE to do the BEST presentation.
- I NEED to get a 90% on the exam.
- First is the ONLY option. Second ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH.
- I CAN'T BE HAPPY until I've lost those 10 lbs.
The next step is to CHALLENGE THOSE PATTERNS. How else can she talk to herself to work towards achieving goals with a gentler, more positively realistic attitude. Maybe her inner voice could sound more like this:
- I will work hard to prepare a really good presentation. I'm also going to focus on learning something, and enjoying the process!
- I'd like to strive for a 90%, but I can only do my best. What do I need to review next?
- First would sure feel amazing, and I'll work for that, but I'll feel proud of myself for giving my best, whatever the result.
- I'll focus on eating healthily and exercising, but I'm also going to work on doing the things that make me feel good about myself and my life right now, while I'm on that path toward weight loss.
- Breaking down goals into smaller, more manageable chunks - baby steps!
- Ensuring that goals are reachable and realistic
- Enjoy the journey, not just the end result
- Be gentle with yourself - be encouraging and supportive, not critical
- Learn from mistakes, don't dwell on them.
- What happens if you put in for 85% effort rather than 100%? I'll bet (and studies prove this to be true), that you'll accomplish just as much, but you'll enjoy the process with greater wellbeing, and much less distress.