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How to Overcome Perfectionism

Updated on June 19, 2013
Find ways to stop being a perfectionist!
Find ways to stop being a perfectionist! | Source

Stop Trying to be Perfect!

My whole life I have been a perfectionist. To be honest, I never really thought about it. It just came naturally to me. Being a perfectionist is not about ego, as some people think, it's about thinking that everything we do has to be done the very best.

I take pride in myself and the things that I do. I want to present the best me I can and do the best job I can...from cooking dinner to helping a friend with a problem. It doesn't matter how big or small it is, it is my duty to make it perfect.

As the years have gone by and I am now facing 60, I am finally realizing that it is a curse to be a perfectionist. It is exhausting, stressful and downright a waste of time! Getting older you don't have the same energy you once had, so it becomes easier to let things slide...just a little.

Having said that, it isn't easy to change this habit. I think most perfectionist are born that way, so it's just part of who you are. Due to some life changing events in my life, I had to finally face my perfectionism head on. I realized I had to let go of it. I had to stop trying to be perfect and make everything perfect.

Due to the loss of both of my parents and other situations, I suddenly found myself on my own for the first time in my life...and alone. It was a startling and anxious time that took me many years to cope with and find some kind of peace about. I also found that I had to do everything for myself. No one was going to help me fix things or figure things out.

I wore myself down trying to do it all and, of course, it had to be done right...it had to be perfect. There was a moment when it all hit me, the truth that I couldn't keep this up. I had to learn to break my habit of perfectionism.

The first thing I did was realize that if I didn't dust that table every day, it wasn't the end of the world. I will say right now that I haven't turned into a slob or stopped being clean and tidy and all that other good stuff, but...and this is a huge step, I have stopped being so anxious about it. The house can be dusted once a month and it's fine. It really is.

Another problem has been financial. I can't afford to hire someone to fix everything, so I either have to find a way to fix it myself or not fix it at all. An example is my kitchen floor. It is over twenty years old and has lots of dings in it from things being dropped on it. I would love to get it replaced, but can't afford to. I can't do the job myself...wouldn't even know where to begin...so I have learned to live with it.

If I ever get a million or two in the bank I will definitely have it fixed, but in the meantime, I have let myself stop obsessing over it. There are a lot of things around the house that I've had to learn to ignore. Maybe more importantly, I have had to learn to accept. Accept that they can't be done right now and that's ok... it has to be, and getting stressed over them is not going to help.

My habit of perfectionism is getting weaker and I am finding it freeing in some ways. I have worn myself out trying to keep it up and finally, one day I let out a huge sigh and said "STOP!" It hasn't been easy, but it's been essential to my well-being. I've learned to accept that while something might not be "perfect", it is good enough. I also finally realized that a lot of times my efforts were a waste of time. No one appreciated that extra effort I put in. In the end, it didn't matter anyway.

So, my final words are to all my fellow perfectionists. We have to do a certain amount to make ourselves comfortable and happy, but we don't have to have everything perfect. We don't have to be perfect ourselves. Do yourself a huge favor and lighten up...things will be just fine...honestly.


How About You?

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    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 4 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      What a fascinating hub! I'm glad that I'm in the middle now, as your poll suggests, but having said that, there are certain things that would still get me hot and bothered if I let them.

      I was much more of a perfectionist when younger and it is stressful and a total waste of time. I don't know with me if it was a form of stress - being adament that things had to be perfect, like a compulsion, but like you I did eventually let go. The relief is tremendous and now when I can't afford to fix something or buy something to make something else look better, I can just turn away and forget about it. Your right, it isn't easy, but it can be done and it's worth the effort to just let go.

      I'm sure this hub will be a great benefit to anyone who has this need to have things perfect all the time!

      Great hub + voted up!!

    • catgypsy profile image
      Author

      catgypsy 4 years ago from the South

      Seeker, thanks for the vote up! I never thought of the fact that it might be a form of stress...very interesting! I do know my mom was the same way, so I suppose it's inherited to some degree or a learned behavior. I also have an anxiety disorder, so the stress thing might fit in there. Thanks for such a thought provoking answer!

    • Olde Cashmere profile image

      Olde Cashmere 4 years ago from Michigan, United States

      This was interesting to read catgypsy. It sounds like you're making great strides and I find myself somewhere in the middle. Really enjoyed your writing. Voting up, sharing, and rating useful, interesting, and awesome :)

    • Esmeowl12 profile image

      Cindy A. Johnson 4 years ago from Sevierville, TN

      Thanks for sharing this important topic. It has taken me many, many years to overcome perfectionism. I am a lot less stressed now.

    • catgypsy profile image
      Author

      catgypsy 4 years ago from the South

      Thanks Cashmere! I do really good on some days and then fall back on others...but I just keep reminding myself to STOP! Thanks for reading and voting!So glad you stopped by.

    • catgypsy profile image
      Author

      catgypsy 4 years ago from the South

      Thanks Esmeowl12. Good for you for learning how to overcome it. I'm working hard on it and it does help so much with stress!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Great hub. I think that sometimes my wanting things to be just right get in the way of my doing anything. I get so overwhelmed that I don't know where to start. Know what I mean? It's good to let go and say "good enough" on many things in life. Good advice!

    • catgypsy profile image
      Author

      catgypsy 3 years ago from the South

      I know what you mean Victoria! And you are so right that it sometimes can keep you from doing something and leave you overwhelmed...I go through that a lot. I'm learning to love the phrase "good enough" haha. Thanks for stopping by!

    • JPSO138 profile image

      JPSO138 3 years ago from Cebu, Philippines, International

      I enjoyed reding your hub. It provides a lot of insights. Up for this one...

    • catgypsy profile image
      Author

      catgypsy 3 years ago from the South

      JPSO138, thanks for reading and voting up! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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