How to Handle Perfectionism and Lower the Risk of Anxiety and Depression
by Susanna Mittermaier

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Perfectionism is part of our upbringing. In school, we are taught that doing things in a perfect manner leads to success. The question is, “Is perfectionism truly the way to success or is it hindering?”

What I found, working as a psychologist and psychotherapist, is that it can be both. Obsession on details and high utopian standards can have a stressful effect and can lead to anxiety and depression. Desiring to create your projects and business in a way that works out great is more about expressing your creativity, being determined and having perseverance.

An alarming new study* shows perfectionism is on the rise, a condition linked to depression and anxiety. Broadly defined, perfectionism of the kind that is hindering, is a combination of excessively high personal standards and overly critical self-evaluations.

Perfectionism is often fuelled by cultural expectations and conditioning, involving a harsh inner critic and diminishes the capacity to feel joy.

When you create is it about getting it perfect or about enjoying what you do? Are you worrying whether you are perfect enough, good enough and if you meet other’s standards? How can you step out of self-judgment and perfectionistic tendencies? Start with letting go of the harsh internal critical voice and make way for your own!

So, where can you start?

    1. Stop judging you
      The off button for judgments is called, choice. Every time you are on your way to judging yourself, just say to your self, “Stop! Not this time!” After you have done this many times, you will become better.
    2. Be willing to let go
      Perfectionists can hold onto ideas, projects and contributions in fear of the judgment that will come if they share them before they are 100 percent perfect. Be willing to let these ideas, projects and conversation pieces fly out into the world, whether they’re perfect or not. Enjoy how you set them free and move on to the next project.
    3. Don’t look for others approval
      If you feel excited about saying, creating or contributing something in your home, workplace or social circles, don’t wait for approval from others (or even your inner critic). Other people’s points of view are not relevant.
    4. Don’t wait. Create.
      Stop waiting for conditions to be perfect to start creating the experiences you actually want in your life. Give yourself permission to stop worrying about the outcomes (whether things will be perfect or what others will think) and start creating today. Creation starts with one choice. Ask yourself what the first, easy step you could take might be.
    5. Your past does not determine who you are in the present or future
      Perfectionists have usually judged themselves harshly. They may have never measured up to the expectations of others or that of their own inner critic, which can leave many feeling like a failure. Don’t buy into the story of your past. Instead, start creating your future, today. Everything is a success if you allow it. Failure is just a possibility with a point of view attached. Let go of your points of view!
    6.  Get to know your imperfections
      Make a list of your top three imperfections. Then, ask how can you can use each of them to your advantage? If you think you are shy and you believe that is a weakness, ask yourself what the power of shyness is? Shy people are usually great listeners, which can be a great advantage in many work and social settings.
    7. Learn to enjoy being imperfect
      Perfection is about measuring yourself against the standards of society and others. See your individuality as a resource rather than a liability. Enjoy your imperfection and recognize your difference as a treasure box of gifts then use them to create your life, projects and relationships in a way that is unique to you.

Perfectionism stops people from being able to express themselves in the world. Giving up the need to be perfect and allowing your right voice to come through into the world is so liberating. I love it when people realize they can do things they’ve been stopping themselves from doing, especially when those things have the capacity to make them happy. Don’t wait for the perfect moment to start, you might miss the very moment where possibilities come your way!

Susanna MittermaierSusanna Mittermaier is a psychologist, psychotherapist and author of the #1 international bestselling book, Pragmatic Psychology: Practical Tools for Being Crazy Happy. She is a certified facilitator for Right Voice for You, a special program by Access Consciousness®. A highly sort after public speaker, Susanna has been featured in magazines such as TV soap, Women’s Weekly, Empowerment Channel Voice America, Om Times, Motherpedia, Newstalk New Zealand and Holistic Bliss. Susanna offers a new paradigm of therapy called Pragmatic Psychology and is known for her ability to transform people’s problems and difficulties into possibilities and powerful choices. Follow on Twitter@AccessSusanna.

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