How to deal with perfectionism


The philosophical definition of perfectionism is “a doctrine holding that perfection is attainable, especially the theory that human moral or spiritual perfection should be or has been attained.”

I guess it’s not very hard to relate to putting things off, leaving projects unfinished, or overthinking an idea until you squeeze the juice out of it and it doesn’t excite you any longer. I know this all too well. The spark of creativity crippling in, the burst of excitement, the process of thinking what it could be like, what would it smell, taste, feel like, and then in this process something happens and what feels like out of nowhere you start to get all these other ideas in. What if it will look foolish, what if it’s going to be really hard, what if you will fail, what if it only looks good on paper but in reality it just won’t be it.  I start interacting with all of these what ifs, overthinking the process and especially all the things that could go wrong. In then end I am left feeling uninspired, the spark of creativity gone and I am feeling depleted. Living life on the sideline can create way more anxiety than actually playing the game. 

1. Respond

At every now moment we have the ability to consciously respond to the situation in front of us. Even if in reality this can be a little more complex as we spend most of our lives in the unconscious realm , just by having the awareness that everything is our responsibility because we can respond, is empowering. It is important to know that we can choose to engage in anything without chasing perfectionism. In reality perfectionism can look like a safety net we cling on to. By creating excuses and overthink everything we can avoid actually dong things and therefore be safe and not fail. Exercise your right to respond to every situation. 


Being a perfectionist means that many times we postpone doing things with the excuse that we will start when things will be “perfect”. We will start when we will have the right equipment, the perfect team, the money, the time, etc. Imagine how many places you haven’t seen, how many languages you have’t learnt, how many people you haven’t met because you waited for things to perfectly fall into place before taking the plunge and just do it. Begin that which makes your heart smile, which spark every ounce of creativity in your body, which might not seem completely logical at times, for creativity doesn’t spark from the logical mind but it definitely makes life a lot better. 


Get in the game and play the game. It is fairly easy to give up if you are not the best at something. As a perfectionist I find it tempting to give up doing things when I am not the best at them. If I am not “perfect” for it, which even bother? Of course not all of us can be Picasso when painting or Bethovan when playing the piano, but that doesn’t mean we should simply give up on it. You can enjoy a hobby without being the best at it, or as with everything you can only improve by practicing. Stay in the work. 


Morality is an essential part of life, however as humans we experience the entire spectrum of emotions. If you are feeling angry right now that doesn’t mean you are a violent person, or if you are being sad doesn’t mean you are overly emotional. Yet, we can create a certain level of perfectionism even when it comes to our emotions. Instead of suppressing your emotions and identifying with them as they means or say something about your character, learn to just experience, feel into every emotion and then let it go. As if a wave was washing over you, an emotion comes washes over you and then leaves. The more you allow yourself to experience the whole range of emotions the more you will be able to fully embrace joy, fun and happiness. No one can know joy if they have not known sadness, you cannot know white without knowing black. 


Being vulnerable with others can be hard, but how can one be ok with being vulnerable with oneself? I didn’t know how to, how to accept the flow of thoughts that was running through my mind like a stream of water, never ending. But it didn’t feel like spring clean water, but more like a filthy contaminated and populated water, making the clean water around it undrinkable. Cleaning the water of our minds, of our souls can feel like an overwhelming process. But as one cannot begin to plant new seeds on polluted soil, the same happens with creating and cultivating a new inner environment that can support you on your journey rather than keeping you stagnant. Being inquisitive and vulnerable with yourself can help you enrich your relationship with parts of yourself that might not have received much love before. It is usually these parts that can keep us paying small, they don’t need to be belittled even more rather they need love. 

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