There’s a lot of debate in the New Age community about our inherent perfection, and how it is important to accept yourself as perfect just the way you are. That all sounds lovely, yet it flies in the face of the very real issue of perfectionism, and the way that many people experience it.
Perfectionism is defined, in psychology at least, as ‘a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high performance standards, accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.’
The three heads of this beast are:
- setting very high performance standards
- evaluating yourself critically
- worrying about others’ evaluations
Now, everyone judges themself one way or another, and everyone sometimes thinks about how other people see them. These are natural and even necessary aspects of being human.
You evaluate yourself to try to improve your ability to thrive in the world. And you think about how others will see you because you have to live with other people, and making that work smoothly makes life far more pleasant.
The problem comes when you set yourself extremely high standards, setting yourself up for failure. And when the way you see yourself is unrealistically negative, and you obsess over other people’s opinions. After all, as the saying goes, every pebble on the beach is different. Perhaps its time to embrace your own uniqueness…
What to do about perfectionism
Obviously, one thing you can do is to set yourself realistic targets. It can help to have someone else to work through these with you, so that they truly are realistic. And remember, in psychological terms, it is better to set yourself a low bar and overachieve. Then, you feel doubly good about yourself. The mere fact of setting a goal is already a positive to help motivate you, and achieving it gives your system a boost, emotionally and even hormonally.
Hypnosis can also be helpful. For example, it is used a lot if you have performance anxiety. It works to let you feel excited, rather than anxious, about what you will do. This can be achieved partly through desensitisation, partly through calming breathing techniques, and partly through boosting your enjoyment of what you are doing, focusing on its benefits.
Another useful approach is to tap on those self-criticisms, and the fears around other people’s perceptions of you. Tapping can really help install positive beliefs, such as that you are fine just as you are, you are lovable, you can be compassionate with yourself.
If you’d like to experience this for yourself, give this tapping meditation a try: