How To Overcome Perfectionism

Nobody's perfect, we all know this to be true, and yet many of us still drive ourselves crazy expecting to somehow create perfection in ourselves and our surroundings, and feeling deeply disappointed when we discover imperfections in others, as well. While perfectionism might sound like a positive trait and something to be aspired to, it can actually create an enormous amount of stress. As Jaime Bronstein, a licensed therapist and relationship expert who hosts a radio show, tells us the downside of perfectionism is that "you can't connect if you're 'perfect.'" She explains that "perfectionism keeps you at a distance and disconnected from yourself and others, and says that this trait "leaves no room for mistakes and the 'messiness' of life, which is crucial for living an evolved, realized, and healthy life!" As she told us, "the messiness is what makes us human and makes us more relatable and able to connect with others. "

A better attitude, Bronstein says, is to embrace your shortcomings and to realize that all of your many "quirks and imperfections are what make [you] unique." She says that the key to living a happy life is to show up as your true authentic self, since "striving for perfection will only hold you back from allowing yourself to be expressed in life."

Accept imperfections in your partner as well as yourself

When it comes to love, Bronstein reveals, there's no such thing as a perfect partner for you, or for anyone, because — get this — romance novels and romcoms aren't real! You shouldn't knock yourself out trying to find your one perfect love, and nor should you, as Bronstein says, "strive to show up perfectly" yourself. She says "the right people will accept you and love you for all that you, imperfections, quirks, and all," and this applies to lovers as well as friends and family. If you're able to "love who you are," Bronstein says, this will allow you to "attract someone who will love you unconditionally, with no judgment in return," and that you should love your partner in this way as well.

Challenge perfectionist traits with positive affirmations

Bronstein encourages you to start your journey towards letting go of perfectionism, offering the tip that " a series of positive affirmations or mantras can help you along the way." She explains that such affirmations "can help to remind you that you're doing a fantastic job and there is no room for perfection in your life."

So what should you tell yourself? You may want to keep a list of any quotes or phrases that resonate with you, but Bronstein offers the following to get you started: ""No one is perfect," "Making a mistake does not mean I'm stupid," "Not one person is liked by everyone in the world; staying true to who I am is what's important," and "I did my best, and that's all I can do!" PsychCentral offers a longer list of anti-perfection affirmations, including "Mistakes are growth opportunities," "I value learning more than being right," and "I choose to enjoy the process, not just focus on the outcome."

Keep the big picture in view

While disappointments are bound to come into your life on daily basis, Bronstein points out that "when something doesn't work out the way you'd like it to, know that there are always more opportunities just waiting to come into your life." She suggests asking yourself questions along the lines of "Is not getting the job I want life-threatening?" (for job, you can substitute invitation, second date, requisite number of TikTok followers, etc.) as well as the more general "What is the worst that can happen?" and "If the worst happens, will I survive it?" (In most cases, where the issue at hand is not a life-threatening disease or potentially fatal prank, the answer will probably be "yes.")

Bronstein advises looking at life with a "glass half-full" perspective, saying that if you can manage to do so, "you will see that things end up working out whether it's what you thought you wanted or not." As a wise old sage named Mick Jagger once said, "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need." (Bronstein goes Jagger one better, insisting life "ALWAYS gives us what we need." Bronstein's last piece of advice for us: "If you allow yourself the space to be in the flow of life rather than a place of rigid perfectionism, you will see that your life ends up being more peaceful, and the things that are supposed to happen will happen."