Getting rid of perfectionism: How to feel more relaxed and lighter

Reading time 8 minutes
Getting rid of perfectionism: How to feel more relaxed and lighter

A small mistake happens and you want to sink into the ground. You are angry and disappointed with yourself, because normally you don't make mistakes. Perfectionism is your middle name. And that's why you are only happywhen you have achieved 100 %.

But that doesn't always lead you to success. You go through your life with a real tunnel vision. life and find yourself on an eternal hunt for perfect performances again, which is simply tiring. All you see is every little mistake. Your successes, on the other hand, often take a back seat.

The life of a perfectionist is not that easy. But what exactly makes someone a perfectionist? Is perfectionism really so exhausting or does it also have its good sides? How do you manage to do something more serene in everyday life and how can you finally get rid of your perfectionism? We have the answers to all your questions.

What is perfectionism?

At every meeting you are punctual to the minute. If the stove top is not 100 % clean, you can't leave the kitchen. You read through every message at least three times before hitting "send" and rephrase it over and over again. All of these can be facets of perfectionism. It can have very different manifestations and extend to the most diverse areas of life.

Basically, perfectionism describes the pursuit of complete perfection. Your standards are incredibly high and you want to perform not only the best, but completely and utterly perfect. But what exactly does perfect mean anyway? Who decides what is perfect and what is not? Answering this question is anything but easy.

The ideals that perfectionists pursue are usually quite individual. Often they don't even have a concrete goal, but simply do everything they can to avoid making mistakes. The first perfectionist traits often appear in childhood. Often the fear of failing and of upsetting the parents is the reason. disappoint behind it. Pressure from the parental home, from particularly strict teachers or from the close social environment, reinforces the whole thing.

shed perfectionism

Good & bad perfection

Not all perfectionism is the same. It differs not only in its expression, but also in its effects. The Koblenz scientist Christine Altstötter-Gleich found out that there is both good and bad perfection. A differentiated view of the matter is therefore required.

What is good perfection?

Good perfection makes you perform at your best. Compared to negative perfectionism, you don't frantically try to appear flawless to others, but want to live up to your own unique standards. You may set the bar very high, but the Motivation comes from within you and not from outside. You want to evolve and grow from the goals you set for yourself. That's how you want to become the best version of yourself.

What is meant by poor perfection?

According to Altstötter-Gleich, behind poor perfection lies a great desire for attention. The desire to have complete control over one's own life or the attempt to protect oneself as well as possible from scorn and smiling looks. However, this form of perfectionism does not lead anywhere. You do your best every day, but for toxic reasons. Thus, you lose yourself in a vicious circle of incentive, tons of work, resulting stress and ultimately failure due to fatigue.

Functional perfectionism: A healthy sense of purpose

You always give your all and aim for high performance. You pull out all the stops to achieve your goals, but you can still accept it if you don't quite make it. Does this apply to you? Then you are a functional perfectionist.

When you have setbacks, you don't lose yourself in self-doubt and only think about the alleged failure. You know that you can learn from it and will do better next time. If you then succeed in achieving the performance you set out to achieve, you are proud and full of joy.

Dysfunctional perfectionism: worry lines adorn your face

As a dysfunctional perfectionist, you are always worried whether you will really achieve your goal. If you don't succeed, you only see the problems and not the small successes that you have nevertheless achieved. Your Self-esteem is decreasing, because it is very closely linked to your performance. You believe that others value you only when you perform at your best, and that's why you throw yourself into perfectionism so much.

What character traits make perfectionists?

If perfectionism dominates your life, then high goals and demands on yourself are on your agenda. At the same time you are anxious and unsafebecause you always think that your performance is not good enough. You are afraid of losing reputation, because you place an incredible amount of value on how others see you.

Another characteristic trait for perfectionists is motivation - sometimes it comes from within, sometimes from outside. You dare to tackle the biggest tasks that others shy away from. You are brave enough to dare and give your best. In addition, you are always well organized, because you know that the best way to achieve big goals is with a good plan.

What are the causes of perfectionism?

Often it is close attachment figures who cause perfectionism in others with their actions, their statements and their expectations. Not infrequently, the parental home forms the breeding ground. If structures are missing here, children often try to create some themselves. They develop more and more perfectionist traits, which give them support and a sense of control.

But the opposite can also be the case. If the parents set very strict guidelines and are themselves strongly perfectionist, this is very likely to rub off on the children. This is especially true if the parents' high expectations of themselves are projected onto the offspring.

Risks of perfectionism

Perfectionism can actually come with some risks. As a perfectionist, you put yourself at risk of developing exhaustion syndrome sooner or later. Because you are always putting yourself under so much pressure, you are permanently under stress. This not only puts a strain on your mind, but also on your body.

You are constantly running at peak performance and hardly allow yourself any breaks. That is definitely not healthy. You find yourself in a Hamster wheel again, from which you simply can't make it out of. Mental illnesses can also join in - such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, depression, and anxiety or panic.

Ditch perfectionism: With these 9 tips you will succeed

You're never satisfied with yourself, none of your accomplishments are ever good enough in your eyes, and you feel like your perfectionism is slowly eating away at you. Do you feel exactly the same way? Then you should urgently do something about it. But how can you simply get rid of perfectionism?

Admittedly, this doesn't work overnight. It is a process that takes time. So that you can still go this way successful we have put together a few valuable tips for you. They'll help you get out of the perfectionism trap.

1. do not get lost in trivialities

Perfectionists often tend to pay attention to every little detail. In doing so, they completely lose sight of the big picture and get completely bogged down. You can get rid of perfectionism if you manage to put your love for details on the back burner. Otherwise, your project will drag on and on, eventually outgrowing you, and you won't make it to the finish line. This drags you down and you lose yourself even deeper in the perfectionism spiral.

2. don't be so hard on yourself

When something didn't work out perfectly, it drags you down incredibly deep. All your thoughts revolve around what little mistake you made and you analyze every single step. You will be able to get rid of your perfectionism if you learn to be more merciful with yourself. Nobody is perfect - this is not just a phrase.

Instead of always focusing on your mistakes, you should focus on your strengths and build on them. Then success will knock on your door all by itself and you will develop a healthy relationship with yourself. Inferiority complexes will then be a thing of the past.

3. do not compare yourself with others

We all tend to compare ourselves with others from time to time. This is quite normal and up to a certain point nothing bad at all. But if you always look at what others have or can do, you lose sight of yourself completely. There will probably always be someone who can do a certain thing a little better than you.

The comparison with others, makes you blind to the original that you are.

Laura Malina Seiler

But you can do something else better than this person, so think about it! You yourself should be your priority. You can get rid of perfectionism if you concentrate on yourself and your strengths and don't keep frantically looking for things that someone else can do better than you.

4. stay realistic

You won't get everything completely perfect on the first try, no matter how hard you try. Certain things need to be practiced first and you need to accept. Then the discarding of your perfectionism succeeds. You do your best and that is enough. To believe that everything will go perfectly right away is simply unrealistic and you should say goodbye to this thought.

5. allow yourself to make mistakes

Every one of us makes one or two small mistakes. It happens even to the best of the best. In fact, making mistakes is important so that you can continue to develop.

They represent valuable lessons and show you which aspects you can still improve. In this way, every mistake sooner or later turns into a success. If you manage to internalize this, you can get rid of your perfectionism.

6. look at yourself from a different perspective

You are your own biggest critic. Just put yourself in the position of an outsider and ask yourself how other people look at you. What they see is a hard-working, committed and motivated person. No one can tell by the tip of your nose whether you made a small mistake today.

And even if it were, that wouldn't be a bad thing at all! What counts is your personality and not whether you forgot a comma in an email today or didn't shake your bed perfectly. If you can honestly reflect on this for yourself, you will be able to get rid of your perfectionism.

7. accept help

You don't have to do everything alone. Accepting help is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. You admit to yourself that you still have something to learn - and not everyone can do that. Use this chance! In this way, you will automatically move closer and closer to your goal and you will be able to get rid of perfectionism.

8. do not complicate everything

As thinking beings, we humans tend to analyze everything comprehensively. But does that really get you anywhere? If you want to get rid of your perfectionism, you should learn not to "think everything through". Dare to just go through with things and don't get lost in countless thoughts and doubts beforehand. Put aside your obsession with detail and the FearThe first thing you have to do is to get rid of the fear of making a small mistake and dare to just go for it.

9. become able to criticize

Those who cultivate a strong perfectionism often have problems accepting criticism. With the urge to make everything perfect, perfectionists try to avoid critical words. But who defines what is perfect and what is not? Opinions will always differ and that's exactly why there can always be critical voices - even if you think you've done everything perfectly.

If you internalize this fact, you can finally get rid of your perfectionism. It will not get you far to bow to even the smallest criticism. Stand up for yourself and your performance and assert yourself. What counts is whether you are satisfied with yourself and not what others think of you.

Are you caught up in perfectionism?

Are you a true perfectionist, as it is written in the book? Maybe you even urgently need to get rid of your perfectionism? What makes you tick, what are your strengths and how do you manage to reach your full potential? Potential to the full? Find out in our Personality Test. Get started and get to know yourself even better!


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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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