If you relate to the following, you may indeed be a perfectionist:

You are very critical of yourself

You are afraid of making mistakes

You think in terms of ‘black and white’

You continually need approval from others

You set unattainable goals for yourself

You find it hard to let yourself off the hook when you make a mistake

You are afraid of failure

You are afraid of letting others down

You like to feel in control of your life

You prefer the final outcome - the finished result of something rather than the process of doing it

Your expectations of yourself are very high

We can see from the above statements that many of them are tied up in fears and insecurities. Ask yourself which statements you relate the most to, and you can focus on asking yourself why that is. For example, if you are afraid of letting others down, why are you so afraid? What will happen if you let someone down? Where did this fear come from - some of our fears can arise from early childhood family dynamics. If you ask yourself some soul searching questions, you may have a greater understanding of what is driving your perfectionism.

Another great way of looking at the problem is asking yourself ‘what would I say to my friend in this situation?’ For example, you can imagine your friend making a mistake in work and not being able to forgive herself and let it go. You can say to yourself what you would say to her in this situation - ‘it is going to be ok, everyone makes a mistake at some point in their life’, give them a hug, and keep going. You can learn to be your own best friend in the way that you talk to yourself - your inner voice determines your emotions and your actions.

Also beware of black and white thinking - the all or nothing approach, which can be very destructive and is a common feature in perfectionists; do you usually see things as either good or bad, win or lose? Letting go of this type of thinking is essential to psychological health. Life is never as simplistic as black and white, good or bad. Life is more complex, and even if you did not get top marks in something it did not mean it was not worth your while doing the exercise - the opposite is true. You learned something from the experience, and learning is always positive. It is time to realise there are grey areas, there are ‘maybe’s, everything is not set in stone, and it is ok to navigate the grey areas of your life.

A final thought is to think about the expectations you have on yourself. Make sure these are achievable and realistic! Don’t compare your life with anyone else’s when you are setting goals and standards for yourself. You are an individual, with unique gifts, personality, circumstances, and values. Take into account all these things when you are evaluating your expectations, and make sure they reflect you, and where you are right now. If you don’t, you run the risk of failure, burn out, and loss of confidence.

Author's Bio: 

I’m a counsellor/ psychotherapist/ blogger who supports precious people who are overwhelmed to find the strength and encouragement they need to experience freedom and regain confidence, so that they can be free to focus on their own dreams and passions.

I am passionate about physical, emotional, spiritual well-being, eating disorder recovery and domestic violence issues. I believe the goal is to eat intuitively, to embrace an imperfect life, and to live in balance.

Check out my blog at http://newtownabbeytalktherapy.co.uk/blog/