Are you a perfectionist? If you often set unrealistically high standards for yourself, then you probably are. On the surface, being a perfectionist doesn’t seem like such a bad thing.
It’s true that having high expectations for yourself can be beneficial – but if you take it to extremes, it can get in the way of your happiness, well-being, and ability to care for yourself.
If you’re a perfectionist, these self-care tips will help you learn to treat yourself more gently and accept yourself just as you are.
1. Talk to yourself in a kind, encouraging way
Think about how you’d talk to a good friend if they made a mistake at something. You wouldn’t call them names or say mean things to them. So why would you do that to yourself? Unfortunately, most perfectionists are in the habit of talking to themselves in a less-than-kind way.
Tearing yourself down isn’t constructive, though, so make an effort to notice when you’re doing it and stop. If you catch yourself engaging in negative self-talk, change your thoughts to something more positive instead.
2. Forgive yourself when you mess something up
Mistakes – big ones and small ones alike – can haunt a perfectionist for days. But if you can’t let go of something you did wrong last week, you’re wasting valuable mental bandwidth on something that most other people have probably forgotten by now. It’s important to consciously forgive yourself for making mistakes, even though it might be difficult at first. Say something like, “I forgive myself. That mistake is in the past, and I’m going to do my best from here on out.” Then move on with your life.
3. Take time every day to focus on something you did well
When you’re a perfectionist, it’s all too easy to focus on the things you did wrong. Get into the daily habit of thinking about things you did right instead. Keep in mind that you can do something well without doing it perfectly! If you learned something new in class, or if your boss complimented you on your latest project, give yourself a pat on the back for your accomplishment.
Humor is a wonderful way to relax and gain some perspective. Try to find something to laugh about every day, whether that means sharing a joke with a co-worker or watching comedy videos online. When you have a good sense of humor, you’ll be able to cope with mistakes and negative thoughts more easily.
5. Find a judgment-free space to express yourself
A great remedy for perfectionism is allowing yourself to be imperfect – on purpose. Find a way to express yourself or try something new without any judgment or criticism, either from yourself or from anybody else.
This could mean writing in a journal, teaching yourself a new skill, or working on a creative project that you won’t show to anybody else. The only rule: your activity must be strictly for your own enjoyment. The outcome doesn’t matter, so there’s no reason for you to criticize yourself.
Being a perfectionist can take a toll on your mental health and happiness over time. In fact, holding yourself to a rigid, unrealistic standard is the opposite of caring for yourself. These self-care tips will help you adopt a healthier mindset and treat yourself with the patience and compassion you deserve.