Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Lessons Learned: Challenging Perfectionism

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.” ~Anne Lamott

Keep challenging ourselves around perfectionism - we can still be successful without having followed the plan %100. This idea is not always easy to remember in everyday life, but when we do we can save ourselves from a lot of unhelpful thinking. 

As a self-professed perfectionist, I tend to determine my self worth based on my ability to achieve often unrealistically high standards.  Since achieving extremely high standards provides the basis for my self worth, I tend to pay careful attention to any evidence that I can take to mean I am not achieving. This way of thinking completely neglects the fact that I might have done some good work, though it might not be my BEST work. Though a B+ is not the same as an A, it is still not an F.  

I'll share few helpful tips to discourage this type of thinking. First among them is known to the Japanese as "Wabi-Sabi." This notion promotes authenticity by acknowledging 3 truths: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. Embrace your mistakes and turn them into growth. The second tip is to weigh the benefit of negative thinking vs. the positive. If you only focus on the negative, is it helpful? Does it make you a better student/employee/friend to focus solely on your shortcomings? Probably not, but please conduct your own analysis. Lastly, don't take yourself to seriously! People make mistakes and NOBODY is perfect!

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