How to Stop Being a Perfectionist

Striving to be perfect is an exercise in futility and can hurt your mental health and relationships. Here are four tips for overcoming perfectionism.
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Set realistic goals. Perfectionists tend to set their standards and goals so high that they are often unattainable. Having impossible goals, engaging with all-or-nothing thinking, and focusing only on the finish line is setting yourself up for disappointment, failure and possibly even depression. Alper recommends that you aim for good enough. If you set ultimate goals that are achievable, as well as smaller attainable goals along the way, you will feel good about yourself and experience an ongoing feeling of accomplishment.

Challenge your negative self-talk. Smith suggests turning the volume down rather than trying to shut out all critical thoughts. Acknowledge that the negative thoughts are there, and if you can’t let them go altogether, minimize them to a point where they will not interfere with the functioning of your life. Try to highlight the positives of what you are doing or how you look instead of self-perceived imperfections. Research shows that what you see as a glaring flaw, others barely notice—or don’t notice at all.

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Be more mindful. Focus your whole attention and awareness on the present moment. Don’t think about issues from the past or potential problems in the future. Just be where you are, doing what you are doing, one thing at a time. Not obsessing, just being. Eat when you’re eating. Work when you’re working. Play when you’re playing. If you find yourself obsessing, try taking a mindful walk. Focus on the way you are walking, the sights and smells around you, the weather, anything that brings you from your head into your physical environment and the present moment. Alper says you can use mindfulness meditation to “keep the internal engine from driving you toward that elusive ideal.”

Put other people first. Instead of focusing on yourself and being perfect, refocus your energies on connecting with loved ones. Accept them for who they are, without judging them for their limitations. Embrace their quirks and imperfections—and embrace yours, too. In order to truly connect, you have to put the real you out there, even if it feels messy or scary.

Using these tools, you can start to let go, have more realistic expectations and goals, and accept yourself. All of you. Your imperfections are what make you unique. Try to embrace that and rejoice in your individuality. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be you.

This post originally appeared on YouBeauty.com.

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