Anyone who struggles with perfectionism knows how toxic it can be. While on the outside it seems that perfectionists simply strive to be their best, there’s a lot more going on inside. People who suffer from this disorder are usually so focused on avoiding failure that they maintain a negative mindset most of the time. They feel that any love they receive is conditional on their performance. Of course, their expectations of themselves are unrealistic because perfectionism is unattainable, and that leads to a series of disappointments.
It’s not uncommon for perfectionists to also have depression and eating disorders caused by their feelings of inadequacy and stress. So how can someone overcome this disorder and cultivate a sense of self-compassion instead? Following are just a few ways that have worked for others.
Taking care of yourself is not always easy, especially when you have an inner critic constantly telling you you’re not doing enough. But consistently showing yourself compassion is one of the best ways to combat negative self-talk. Start by giving yourself scheduled breaks. These breaks should be aimed at relaxation, prayer, or meditation. These breaks can be spread throughout the day, but it’s also important to schedule longer ones throughout the week. Take a day off to just focus on yourself. Get a manicure, see a movie, or simply hang out with friends. Practice activities that require little effort on your part, but make you feel accepted, relaxed, and happy.
Additionally, consider seeing a therapist. There are many therapists in Manhattan to choose from, so make sure you select one you feel comfortable talking to. A therapist can help you overcome feelings of perfectionism by prescribing any one of a number of therapies. Hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are a couple that have proven to be effective with perfectionism. These methods will help change your thought patterns and gradually move into a state of self-awareness and healthy behaviors.
Acknowledge the reality of perfectionism
The first step to overcoming anything is to acknowledge that it is a problem. Unfortunately, many people who struggle with perfectionism don’t even realize there’s anything wrong in their lives. They often feel they are striving to be their best. What they may not realize is that perfectionism could be the very thing making them fail. They’re so obsessed with their impossible standards that there’s no way to achieve their goals.
If you’re not sure if you have a problem with perfectionism, ask yourself if you suffer from more than one of the symptoms. For example, if you procrastinate regularly, you may be resistant to starting anything you’re not sure you’ll excel at. Or you might have a tendency to become controlling in all of your relationships. And primarily, you probably feel like you never succeed at anything you do, even when that is not the case. In other words, even when you do well, you think you could’ve done better.
Decrease your social media usage
Excessive social media use has been linked to a number of mental health conditions. In fact, “Facebook depression” is a term coined by psychologists to refer to the depression that some adolescents suffer from as a result of “the intensity of the online world.” They feel this depression stems from feelings of inadequacy because of things like fewer “friends,” “likes,” or being left out of others’ activities. And the epidemic is not exclusive to youth. Many adults are known to suffer from the same feelings. Studies have shown that young adults who viewed social media 58 times a week were “three times as likely to feel socially isolated.” in other words, decreasing your social media usage, or completely giving it up for a period of time could improve your mental health a great deal.
Though perfectionism may seem harmless on the surface, its effects on mood and stress are major. If you feel that you are not good enough, that you won’t ever succeed, and will always complete tasks at an underwhelming rate, you might be trapped in a toxic frame of mind. It is important to recognize this habit and to take active steps to shift your perspective. Working with a licensed professional can help you make progress and become more self-compassionate.