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Why Perfectionism Is Making You Unhappy

  • By Kim Openo, YourTango
  • April 10, 2014

There are many healthy coping mechanisms that a person can do to manage the anxiety of trying to be all things to all people.  First you must make a decision that taking charge of perfectionism is a priority. If life feels out of control, then it is time to control the way you respond to it in thinking and in action. Begin by realizing and accepting that one woman cannot be everything to everyone. 

To help yourself start a life of less perfectionistic thinking, remember these four steps to changing your thoughts and actions:

  • Avoid needless tension.  Not all tasks can be turned away from; however, learn what is a “should” or “must” on your list of what you need to do.  Try saying “no” and delegate tasks, for a change (let your husband feed the kids hot dogs instead of chicken). 
  • Amend situations that you are unable to turn away from.  Deal with problems head on and change your behavior toward them.  For example, learn to respectfully tell others about your emotions instead of blindly saying “OK” to be a perfect employee or perfect wife. By letting a co-worker know you feel overburdened on a project may lead to getting help, you can avoid exhaustion and stress while you try to attempt everything on your own. 
  • Adjust yourself to a situation. There are plenty of times that we are faced with challenges in life that are unchangeable, but we can change how we react to them.  Instead of focusing on you not being at the job of your dreams, try thinking of the two co-workers you laugh with at lunch a few times a month and the boss you enjoy working for.   
  • Acknowledge and accept yourself as imperfect.  Sometimes railing against a particular set of conditions such as being behind on housekeeping or not being able to go back to school, is like beating your head against a brick wall. It does nothing but leave you with a headache and blood in your new hairdo. Learn to accept imperfection in yourself — in fact, if you can...embrace it! It can be the perfect catalyst for growth once you accept that mistakes will be made and mistakes can mean learning opportunities. 

Of course, these steps seem simple and need to be tackled one change at a time. If you find that even small changes like these are impossible, it could be time for help from a professional counselor who is ideally trained in handling anxiety brought on by stress and feelings of not living up to one’s potential.  Many times this trained professional can get to the root of the dysfunctional thinking and have self-acceptance be the norm instead of allowing yourself to be overwhelmed with perfectionism in no time.

This story was provided by our content partner, YourTango, a digital media company dedicated to love and relationships. No matter what love stage our users are in — single, taken, engaged, married, starting over, or complicated — we help them live their best love lives. Written by Kim Openo.

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