Do you make perfectionism your goal or way of life? It is important to distinguish the differences between perfectionism and doing your best. I admit it. I have been a perfectionist. Having awareness has helped me avoid the crippling effects of perfectionism, which used to cripple me. Allow me to share what I have discovered.

Since an early age, we have been conditioned that getting 100 marks is ideal and that anything less would make our score imperfect. Having to compete and to emerge the top meant that no mistake, flaw or error could be tolerated. As social creatures, we also desire acceptance and adulation. We believe that we can get these by looking perfect.

With perfectionism, you would often find yourself in the energy of "striving". You feel as if you are never quite "there" wherever "there" means. In perceiving that you have not quite reached your desired standard, you would wreck yourself to pieces. You go into tailspin.

Recognize the Symptoms of Perfectionism

To avoid the negative consequences of perfectionism, learn to recognize the symptoms. Here are some:

- The thought of imperfection makes you feel unsettled, irritated, frustrated, un-whole, incomplete, discontented and ill.

- There is a strong taste of disapproval towards the self.

- You are highly critical of your own mistakes or if you fail to meet certain expectations.

- You cannot seem to roll out a finished product such as a book or complete a project because it is never good enough.

- You spend hours obsessing over some minor detail that no one else would notice.

- You have a tendency to focus on the 20% that has gone wrong and cannot give credit to the 80% that is going right.

- You believe that you would never be perfect in the way you look. It is important that you never be caught in a photograph with your mouth open wide, in an embarrassing pose or having "crows" feet.

- You spend two hours editing three lines of words that never get published in the end.

- You downgrade your assessment of a product or service because you believe that your whole experience is compromised by a spelling error, a grammar mistake or an imperfection.

Perfectionism: Way of Life

The fear of not being able to produce a perceived great piece of work can be limiting. You are unable to complete your project, much less get started. Perfectionism can cause you to procrastinate. It can also cause you to be indecisive. No option seems to be good enough. You need to be, do or have the best.

The constant bombardment of magazines is not helping. You are made to believe that the perfect appearance means not having a wrinkle, mole or ounce of fat tissue. You have to look every inch coiffed before you step out of the house.

As a perfectionist, it is important that you honed your craft to a fine art. You have an eye for detail. Invariably, you would also turn your nose on those who could not spot the difference between fine art and common fare. On the extreme, you live in your own ivory tower.

Helpful Ways to Let Go of Perfectionism

Problems arise when you lose your sense of perspective due to perfectionism. You leak energy. You are unable to take action. And when you do, you waste time focusing on details that do not matter.

Here are 5 ways to letting go of perfectionism:

1. Work on your base emotions. If you should dwell into your feelings, you would realize that perfectionism is connected to a sense of shame. At the core, you fear rejection. If unable to meet the standard that you have set, you feel as if you are unable to face the world. You hang your head in a pool of self-berating thoughts and feelings.

At the root of it all is the thought "I am not good enough". Chances are as a perfectionist, you’d be contending with a little voice that says you, your appearance or work is never good enough.

Realize that you are already whole, despite the imperfections that you see. Embrace who you are – faults, warts and all – totally. Bring awareness to your negative self-talk. Silence your inner critic with the light of awareness. Use energy releasing methods to work on shame, if you have identified it as the root emotion.

2. Put things in a bigger perspective. In your ivory tower, it is hard to gain perspective. So what would help is to take a few steps backwards to gain a bigger picture of things. Ask yourself if the detail that you are obsessing over is really that significant. Changing your perspective allows you to know that it is up to you to perceive meaning. There can be perfection even within the folds of imperfection..

3. Set reasonable expectations. While you recognize your efforts in wanting to be the best you can, set more reasonable expectations. Acknowledge your limitations. Setting excessively high standards adds unnecessary stress and reduces your overall well-being.

4. Learn to laugh. Taking things less seriously can help. Learn to loosen up. Take a light-hearted approach to life. Ask yourself: so what even if you have not produced the perfect product, written the best article or grown a wrinkle or two? What is the worst that can happen? You might discover that you have been overly dramatic in predicting consequences that may not even arise.

5. Understand that life is a journey. You are on a learning process, as everyone is. Acknowledge your desire to produce an excellent piece of work. However, understand that even while you do your best, you might not have full control over the outcome.

Hence, never allow perfectionism to hold you back from producing, delivering or publishing it. You can always go back to revise, make corrections or amendments after collecting initial feedback.

Practice awareness. Prevent your perfectionistic side from taking charge. In time, you will acquire an improved ability to relax and be less harsh towards the self. Your overall wellness improves.

Author's Bio: 

Evelyn Lim believes in mastering the self in order to create a life of abundance. She is passionate about helping others in the areas of self mastery, creativity, visioning, emotional healing and attraction. For a free articles, please subscribe to her newsletter when you visit her site at