Confidence is built on the acceptance of yourself and your abilities. Perfectionism is the belief that you should do nothing if it is not done perfectly. So perfectionism is one of the stronger enemies of confidence. If you are going to develop your confidence, you need to suppress any leanings towards perfectionism.

What is Perfectionism?

Perfectionism is the unwillingness to do something unless you are guaranteed that it is perfect. In other words, perfectionism is holding yourself to an unattainable standard. Since nobody is perfect, and everybody makes mistakes, perfectionism will hold you back from doing anything new, different, or challenging. After all, you say to yourself, I might make a mistake.

Perfectionism has two sources. The first source is a collection of fears. Fear of failure contributes; anything challenging carries the potential of failure, so fear of failure means you will not do anything challenging. This is rationalized by saying you want to make sure you do it absolutely right, which can never be assured and thus is part of perfectionism. Fear of looking bad to others is another contributor; if you cannot be guaranteed success, you might look bad to others, so you wait until you are guaranteed success (which is never), a form of perfectionism. Fear of the unknown also contributes, since unknown things may behave unexpectedly, and perfect people have everything under control.

The second source of perfectionism is security. You know the current situation, and you are comfortable if not happy with the way things are. Why change them? Why take the risk? Why expend the effort? The only reason would be that you are guaranteed positive results, which means the situation must be perfect. Since guarantees are not possible, the situation is never right and nothing ever changes.

Overcoming Perfectionism

To overcome perfectionism, and build your confidence, you need to make some changes which seem not to make sense. But these changes open the door of opportunity, allowing you to act. By acting, you gain in confidence, which breaks the cycle of perfectionism.

The first change is you must accept the fact that you are not perfect, and that you will not always do the right thing. You will make mistakes. The key to this change is acceptance of your imperfections. If I know I will make mistakes, then when I make one, it is no big deal. I knew that I would make a mistake, and I did, and now I can move on.

The second change is to have faith in yourself. While you may mistakes, you will, in the long run, reach your goal. You must trust yourself enough to be willing to take a chance. The Law of Abundance says there is always enough for everybody; a logical consequence is that there is enough for you to take a chance, lose what you risked, and still have enough to start again.

The third change is to put together a program of learning. Study what you are trying to do, learn about it, try out what you learned, and monitor your results. Students are never perfect (which is why our grading systems are counter-productive), and if you are a student of life, you will be learning from your mistakes.

Finally, dream big. People trying to be perfect are constantly worried about minor details. Make your dreams so big that you blow by the details, moving towards your dream. Keep your focus fixed on your dreams. People who are focused are where things can go wrong make things go wrong; people who are focused on their dreams make things work out.

Perfectionism is a disease, a disease of belief which can kill action. However, it is a curable disease. You can be confident in your ability to reach your goal even when you acknowledge that you are not perfect. Role models are imperfect people who reached perfect goals. Be the same.

Author's Bio: 

John Steely has been teaching mathematics, study skills, and habits of success for over 25 years. This material comes from a course on Deep Self Confidence offered on his website.