Did you know that perfectionism could be harming you more than you realise? And that you can and should do something about it?

Constantly worrying about achievements, the future, past mistakes, and the need to be ‘perfect’ can hinder us from harnessing the potential we do have, by trying to harness the potential we don’t. It’s only human to compare ourselves, our lives, our careers, our morals, and values, to those around us, and even those we don’t know. When we compare our lives to others, the chances are high that we question whether we are smart enough, fit enough, contributing to our personal lives enough, and even happy enough.

According to some studies, striving for perfection is something that largely affects women. Self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy both at home and in the workplace are something that many women experiences throughout their lives and often start at an early age. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live, look, and act perfectly, we can reduce or avoid the pain of self-blame, judgment, and even shame.

Perfectionism can have serious implications, linking back to anxiety, and often depression, which is more common in women than men. Striving to be perfect lives and breathes on our fear of making a mistake. Although societal norms have changed, and women are more accepted in the workplace, have the chance to climb the corporate ladder, and contribute to society in more ways than before, there is still the added pressure, for some, to continue to be supermom and ‘Stepford wife’ on top of it all.

As women, we all want to believe that we are our authentic and true selves, but the reality is that life can be messy, and imperfect. Adding pressure to ourselves only further unravels us, which is why it is better for us, and healthier, to strive for progress and not perfection.

How to let go of the need to be perfect for a stronger sense of self

  1. Change your mindset

Our perception becomes our reality, which is why it is important to create a mindset that isn’t filled with unrealistic expectations. Remove the mindset you have previously created based on what you have derived from past experiences of what’s expected of you. Instead of using all your energy to get the approval of others, focus your energy on being enough for yourself. Ask yourself: what is more important – perfection or learning?

  1. Build self-reliance

We aren’t born with self-reliance. It is developed through trial and error as we make decisions throughout our lives. Being self-reliant means doing things for yourself, and the more you do for yourself, the more confident you will become, and you’ll be less likely to feel the need to be ‘perfect’ all the time.

  1. Learn to let go

Probably one of the hardest things to do in life is letting go. If you let go of how you think others perceive you, you may find that you don’t have to uphold those perceived standards. Often, it is our own negative ideas about ourselves that get in the way of who we are meant to be.

  1. Make decisions for yourself

People who don’t feel good enough often look to others for advice or to be told what to do because they don’t feel they are strong enough, or smart enough to make decisions on their own. Making decisions for yourself will boost your confidence, and will prove that sometimes, you already have the answer, and asking someone for theirs, may only leave you with even more anxiety and confusion about a situation.

  1. Remember that you can’t berate your way into accepting yourself

Telling yourself that you are a failure, or not good enough, will never make any situation better. Negative self-talk will stop you from reaching your potential and won’t lead you to it either. You need to remember that you are enough as is.

When things go right, when any progress is made, when any goal is reached, be kind to yourself and revel in the fact that you have achieved something. Remind yourself that working towards your goals, being willing to take chances, and putting yourself out there are all accomplishments within themselves. Don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself to fit into a mold that others have created.

Look into the window of your own life, and not that of others.