In our world today, perfectionism is viewed as positive and fear of failure is frowned upon. Perfectionism is something people often consider more of a strength than a weakness. That constant desire for perfection can become unhealthy and irrational. Longing for a fulfilling life, lacking self-confidence, all-or-nothing, over-thinking, fear of failure, fear of judgement and what people think, significantly high standards, people pleasing, and craving guidance. Does any of this sound familiar to you? If so, you are far from alone.

As far back as I can remember, I struggled with this compulsive internal desire to be perfect and anything short of that was seen as failure. My perfectionism became intertwined with my sense of self; which is how perfectionist traits can become depleting. As I got older, I viewed my sense of perfectionism as one of my greatest strengths; well, likely because perfectionism is ultimately an illusion and the pursuit of perfection becomes a vicious cycle. Becoming self-aware and changing my mindset of perfection tendencies have been difficult for me and still requires daily effort and practice to increase self-compassion and decrease self-criticism.

I have come to realize that at the same time as we set unreasonable standards for ourselves, social media reinforces unrealistic standards and magnifies the fear of failure. With social media being a large part of our lives and our culture, it is often difficult to avoid. But it is possible to see beyond the illusion of being perfect and begin to change your mind set to become the best version of yourself that you can be. We ultimately get in our own way of living a fulfilling life.

Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be our best. Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is necessary to see beyond the illusion and become your best self.  Healthy striving is self-focused: “How can I improve?” Perfectionism is other-focused: “What will they think?” It’s about creating an environment where imperfection isn’t just accepted but celebrated, because it means we’re human. Changing how you think about yourself is a work in progress. Allowing imperfection to happen and accepting it relieves that extra weight you have been carrying with you. Celebrate imperfections and get out of your own way!

Angela Nigro

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