5 Tips to Help You Tackle Perfectionism

You overthink. You’re prone to negative thoughts. You worry constantly. You’re self-critical. Sound familiar? Anxiety can be debilitating, especially for perfectionists around the holidays. You’ll second-guess your decorations, critique your menu, and clam up in front of relatives. These small flare ups of perfectionism will contribute to your anxiety until it overflows if you do nothing about it. Luckily, there are simple ways to address your perfectionism and stamp it out. Here are five strategies from Alice Boyes’ handbook, The Anxiety Toolkit.

Catch Either/Or Thinking. The very first step in overcoming debilitation is simply to recognize the type of thinking that sparks the flame. Generally, the formula of these statements is “Either I perform flawlessly, or the result will be a disaster.” Once you learn to identify these types of statements, you can reorient your mental narrative. You may be surprised by how often these either/or thoughts crop up.

Switch from a Performance Focus to a Mastery Focus. Performance focus is when your highest priority is to show you can do something well. Mastery focus is when you’re mostly concerned with advancing your skills. Now that you can identify the types of statements that set off anxiety, you can shift from performance focus to mastery. Essentially, you can recalibrate the feeling of failure into one discovery and learning.

Catch the Minimizing Thinking Error. How often do you diminish your own successes, brushing off a compliment or pointing out something you could have done better (that no one else noticed)? When someone praises one of your dishes this holiday season, be proud and accept that win instead of dwelling on another dish you found to be subpar or a spice you felt you could have added to improve it even further.

Accept the Pace of Success. Many perfectionists will look to their end goal and dwell on not having yet achieved it. Everything in between all of a sudden seems “not good enough.” But remember to measure every success as a stepping stone toward the greater goal.

Prevent Burnout from “I Need to Work Harder” Thoughts. There is no quicker path back down to overwhelming anxiety than “I need to work harder.” If something isn’t quite right, compromise or find an alternate solution. When you adjust your goal, you are setting yourself up to succeed, even if the path to getting there had to change slightly.