Controlling habits like perfectionism can increase when there are times of stress.
When things around you feel out of control, you may try to control the habits within you perfectly.
Unfortunately, no one is perfect, and when you perceive someone as perfect, it is a falsehood.
Perfectionism is closely related to a fixed mindset and an unwillingness to make mistakes or fail.
Some of life’s greatest lessons come from failure, and you are stunting your own growth when you expect perfection from yourself. Judgement of your performance can also be harmful to your mental health.
It doesn’t make it easy to switch from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset – one based on growing through progress and failures – but it is possible.
When you have a fixed mindset, it may sound like this:
I have to get this right on the first try.
I can’t make mistakes.
I don’t need to learn anything new. I know this already.
I failed so what’s the point.
When you have a growth mindset, it may sound like this:
Mistakes are valuable.
I can and I will make it my mission to learn.
Mistakes help me grow.
It’s okay if I try again.
Read More: “How mindfulness Helps With Anxiety”
When you aren’t willing to make mistakes, it can feel difficult to try, which can lead to procrastination on projects both at work and school.
Ultimately, perfect is impossible and when you do fail, compassion can be the softest place to land.
Kindness towards yourself matters when it comes to increasing your emotional intelligence and empathy.
Developing compassion for yourself can be a challenge, and a closely related response is pity. Pity can encourage suffering, which may feel compulsive even though it is optional.
This can be why you may feel self-pity around your perfectionistic ways. You may think that because something isn’t perfect or you have made a mistake, you are the worst.
Extreme thinking is unhelpful.
You can honor your initial reaction and part of emotional maturity is to create a new response.
Here are 5 ways to develop compassion for yourself when you aren’t perfect.
1. Engage humor.
You can laugh at yourself when you aren’t perfect to help yourself grow, learn, and practice humility.
Laughing can release resentments about your unmet expectations. Finding joy can help you to seek less perfection and reduce negative feelings.
2. Practice Positive Affirmations.
Treat yourself like you want to be treated.
Your inner critic may be loud right now, and have compassion anyway.
If you consistently have negative self-talk when you aren’t perfect, your compassion will not magically increase. The conversations you have with yourself matter.
Speak kindly to yourself. Small changes start with you.
3. Rightsize yourself.
Perfectionism can be a result of too little self-esteem or too much; it’s hardly just right.
When you think your error is egregious, take perspective. You can’t be perfect.
Horrible mistakes can happen, and chances are you are taking too much credit.
As a human being, you will have a difficult moment, and the feeling won’t last forever.
4. Hold space for your feelings.
Read More: “5 Signs That You Are Making Emotional Growth”
It can be disappointing not to have perfect results. When you work incredibly hard on something, want to be recognized, or just need to be heard; you can increase the stakes for yourself.
Part of having compassion is to let the messy feelings have a place too.
Emotions are temporary, and they may not feel comfortable.
Part of compassion for perfectionism is to get uncomfortable.
5. Take a pause.
In the moment, things can feel huge and deafening. The pain can really swallow you up. Sometimes, big decisions, giant mistakes, and hard tasks just need a pause.
Developing compassion for yourself means listening to the tiniest voice inside of you and honoring it for yourself.
If you need a breather, take one. Mindfulness can be helpful in growing compassion and kindness toward yourself. It doesn’t have to be a big deal to take a small break.
Having compassion for yourself doesn’t happen overnight. It means that you take small steps each day to consistently improve your attitude and actions.
Daily intentions are often overlooked for grandiose results, and the truth is, your behavior each day is one of the biggest indicators of your overall success, whatever that means to you.
When things become overwhelming, there is help available.
A mental health professional like a therapist here in Denver can help you to develop compassion for yourself even when you are not perfect.
And no one is perfect.
Go easy on yourself in the meantime.
Written by: Randi Thackeray, MA
Clinically Reviewed and Edited by: Julie Reichenberger, MA, LPC, ACS, ACC