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How Perfectionism is Holding You Back (and How to Let Go)

How Perfectionism is Holding You Back (and How to Let Go)

Perfectionism always sounded like a positive word to me.

After all, what could be better than being perfect?

I cannot think of any situation where something could be beyond perfect. Yet in reality, perfectionism is a real problem because it stops people from sharing with the world the more imperfect (but still amazing!) things they create.

Are you stuck on perfectionism? It’s time to let go. In this article you’ll learn the benefits of embracing imperfection and how doing so will give you a beautiful sense of freedom.

Let Go and Reap the Benefits

Almost all the wonderful inventions that we celebrate today began in a less than perfect way.

The first iPhone, the first Space X rocket, and the first electric car were all put out in a less than perfect state. Yet, people still loved them. People still bought or invested in them. As each iteration of these products came out, they got better, so much so that if you compare the latest iPhone X to the first generation iPhone you would immediately declare the first iPhone to be nowhere near perfect.

The thing about the first iPhone, the first Space X rocket and the first electric car is they were a work in progress.

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Sure they were not perfect, but on the whole, they worked and people enjoyed them immensely. Once they were out there in the market, the feedback came in and that helped to improve the products. Imagine if Space X’s Falcon 1 had not launched; would we have seen the impressive Falcon Heavy launch?

The lessons learned from the first Space X launch led to improvements in the next launch. And now, in 2018 we have a Tesla Roadster orbiting our sun. If the engineers at SpaceX were worried about being perfect, none of this would have happened. They would still be working on the Falcon 1 rocket.

And, that’s the problem with perfectionism: it stops you from accomplishing many things that you have the ability to achieve. It prevents you from sharing with the world your ideas, your work and your craft, so you never benefit from the feedback necessary to get better; this means the world will not benefit from the amazing things you are capable of doing.

Outlined below are five tips you can use to help get away from your perfectionism so the world can benefit from the work you do.

All Great Things Began Imperfect

Most likely, our first attempts at anything will not be perfect.

It takes time to develop the necessary know-how and skills to achieve perfection–and even then, it could probably be improved upon. That should not stop you, rather this idea should encourage you. At every turn, at every attempt, you will get better. The goal is not to have a perfect version.

The goal is to create something that works, something that resonates with people, and something that will get better with time and patience and continuous effort to improve it.

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Don’t Fret Feedback

Too often people hold back their ideas and opinions because they think their idea or opinion is stupid.

No idea or opinion is stupid.

All great ideas started somewhere. The best ideas were put out into the open so that other people could provide feedback and criticize them. That is precisely how great ideas start–through feedback, the ideas evolved and got better. Holding back your idea or product until you have perfected it only guarantees it will never be perfect.

You need the feedback to make it better. Even if you find that your idea is perfect, another person’s insight may give you a new perspective on ways to improve. Or that criticism may be just what you need to motivate you! Ted Turner, the founder of CNN, said that when he told people of his idea for starting CNN, everyone laughed at him. When that happened, he knew he was on to a good idea.

Perfectionism is Really Just Fear

The truth behind perfectionism is that it is a form of fear.

This fear is most likely of criticism or dislike of your idea. The worst thing you can imagine is that your idea will be a total flop and that you will fail.

The good thing about fear is that it is a mental state, not a physical one. Any fear, especially irrational fears about perfection, can be changed and overcome by analyzing why you are fearful in the first place and recognizing the worst case scenario of putting a “less than perfect” idea out there.

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Once you realize that the worst thing that could happen is someone will criticize your work, then you will understand that really that is nothing to be afraid of–in fact, criticism is a fantastic tool to help your idea get better! This is where you learn what others think can be improved on, so that your idea will appeal to a wider audience and gain more traction with others.

Failure is Actually Fabulous

Look at any great business person and you will see a career path littered with failure.

Steve Jobs failed at pretty much everything he tried until he returned to Apple in 1997. Elon Musk has had more failures than most people experience in a lifetime. Yet, these two pioneers never gave up. They kept creating, producing and pushing forward despite their setbacks.

Life is ninety-percent failure and ten-percent success.

What matters is the ten-percent. The ninety-percent is necessary in order for you to get the ten-percent successes. So, accept any and all failures as part of your journey.

Life Is Not Perfect

We are not born perfect and we will not die perfect.

In fact, perfection is pretty much a myth.

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What one person may find perfect, another will disagree. That is just the way it is. Life is all about successes and failures, and that is how we grow and become better people, just as our ideas grow to be better from repeated failures. We live and we make mistakes and as we do so, we learn and improve.

We will never be perfect and that is the way it should be; if everyone was perfect, then it would be a very boring world. Imperfections are what make you who you are and they make you interesting and unique. Celebrate your failures and imperfections.

Perfection is Imperfect

If you feel as though perfectionism is hard to come by, you’re not alone.

Nobody, nor any idea, is perfect. Accept the idea that striving to do your very best is good enough and will eventually lead you down a brilliant path. If you have a perfectionist streak in you, try and let it go, and embrace the process of getting your idea out into the world, rather than focusing on the end result.

Featured photo credit: Jonathan Hoxmark via unsplash.com

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Carl Pullein

Dedicated to helping people to achieve their maximum potential through better time management and productivity.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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