5 Tips to Help Recover from Being a Perfectionist


“Hi, my name is Angela and I am a perfectionist.” Well, I am a perfectionist in recovery.  I know this may sound like the beginning of a testimony in AA, but I have to tell you it sure feels good to finally figure out what is holding me back. And my guess is this is how a person in recovery feels.

You see, I can be my own worst enemy. I procrastinate. I review and review and review (you get the point) my writing. I allow self- doubt to creep into my thoughts. I get frustrated and feel like quitting or lose motivation in starting or completing a project.  I sometimes compare myself to others. And at times I set standards that may be too high or judge myself too harshly when I don’t meet my expectations at the highest level of success.   Does this sound familiar?

Being a perfectionist affects how one thinks, behaves, and feels.  It can make you feel depressed, frustrated, anxious, and even angry or defeated if you constantly criticize yourself for not doing a good enough job after expending tons of energy and effort on a task (AnxietyBC, online website source).

Perfectionism is best defined as a tendency to set standards that are so high that they either cannot be met, or are only met with much difficulty.  Perfectionists tend to believe that anything short of perfection is unacceptable, and that even minor imperfections will lead to catastrophe.

Here are 5 personal lessons learned that are helping me to conquer, combat and overcome perfectionism:

  1. Follow Nike’s lead: Just do it!  Yep, it’s as simple as that. Jump in head first and see where you land. You will surprise yourself.  Take that leap of faith. Usually, you’ll find that the end result is as good as you knew it would be or better. So, start that book chapter, without  a book title. Or register for that class you know absolutely nothing about but have a passion for the subject. Hire a business coach and build that new business.  Nothing beats a failure but a try.
  2. You are normal. Everyone struggles with insecurity and challenges to their self-esteem from time to time.  Don’t feel like you are the only person on the island of imperfection.  Accept being comfortable with being uncomfortable.  Be okay with being imperfect.
  3. Embrace your imperfections.  Engage in  mindfulness activities to learn more about your true self and accept and love that person. Let go of the fear that if others really knew who I am they would reject me. Well, guess what, just maybe if others really knew who you were, they just might accept you and love and respect you just the way you are!
  4. Shift your mindset from self-defeating and overly critical thoughts to realistic and healthy thoughts. “No one is perfect.” “Everyone gets writers block.” “It’s okay if some people don’t like me. No one is liked by everyone.”
  5. Finally, your self-worth is not determined by others perception of you are-you determine your worth.  Repeat this affirmation daily: “I am enough and I am worthy.”

Be mindful that changing your view of yourself and setting realistic and helpful goals does not mean you don’t strive for the best, or that you don’t try hard, or that you lower your standards. Absolutely not! Realistic standards are standards that can actually help you to do your best without costing you things that may be important to you , like family, emotional health and physical wellness, and your social life. It just means to learn to give yourself a break.

Don’t be so hard on yourself, there are plenty of people in this world who do that for us.

Remember, it’s okay to admit that you need help.  I did!  And I received the best feedback and insights from folks who also are recovering perfectionists.


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About Angela Clack

Dr. Angela Roman Clack is a Psychologist and Licensed Professional Counselor practicing in New Jersey. Practicing in the field of mental health for over 15 years, Dr. Clack has developed a specialty in working with women with emotional and physical health issues as well as interpersonal/interpersonal distress. Dr. Clack is a Certified Women’s Empowerment Coach and Consultant. She seeks to empower and help women live their truest expression of themselves, embrace their imperfections, love themselves and to remove self-imposed barriers that get in the way of personal and professional success.

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