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Relationship & Career Vitality Mind Body Energy Coaching with Coach Mary Ellen

Overcome Perfectionism for Peace of Mind

Picture this: You’re in a job interview, and just as the interviewer utters those infamous words, “Tell me about your weaknesses,” you enthusiastically spill the beans about your undying commitment to perfectionism, spinning the weakness into a strength.

Sound familiar? Trust me, you’re not alone. We all know perfectionism can be taken too far. We’ve also been conditioned to believe that being a perfectionist is the golden ticket to success at work and in relationship.

But here’s the catch: being perfect is impossible and when your quest for flawlessness starts to negatively impact your well-being, relationships, and overall sanity, it’s time to rethink that identity.

In truth, no one is perfect. Humans, with all their quirks and imperfections, are beautifully imperfect. While striving for excellence is admirable, chasing after perfection is unattainable.

Signs it’s time to course correct perfectionism

You likely already know if you have perfectionistic tendencies. Recognizing when your perfectionistic tendencies have crossed into unhelpful territory is crucial for a happy life. Self-reflection and attention to your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions can provide valuable insights.

Keep an eye out for the following signs that indicate it may be time to course correct your approach to life:

  1. Setting excessively high standards: You establish unrealistic expectations for yourself and others and often feel dissatisfied even with significant achievements. Others find your standards difficult and unrealistic.
  2. Fear of failure: You’re deeply afraid of making mistakes or falling short of your own or others’ expectations. The idea of failure and being judged can be paralyzing.
  3. Procrastination: Due to the fear of not meeting your own high standards, you may delay starting or completing tasks, as you worry that they won’t be acceptable.
  4. All-or-nothing thinking: You tend to see things as either perfect or a complete failure, with no middle ground. This rigid mindset can contribute to self-criticism and a lack of self-compassion.
  5. Harsh self-evaluation: You are extremely hard on yourself, focusing on flaws and mistakes while dismissing or minimizing your accomplishments.
  6. Difficulty accepting criticism: You struggle to receive constructive feedback or criticism because it feels like a personal attack on your self-worth.
  7. Perfectionism in multiple areas of life: Perfectionistic tendencies may manifest across various aspects of your life, such as work, relationships, appearance, or personal goals.
  8. Emotional distress: Perfectionism often leads to increased stress, anxiety, and a constant sense of never feeling good enough.
  9. Always seeking the next big accomplishment: Even when you accomplish a goal you are on to the next one. You rarely celebrate a win for very long and are always seeking the next big thing.
  10. Constantly seeing mistakes: Being detail oriented is one thing but perfectionists commonly see mistakes where others don’t. This can cause riffs in relationships when others feel not good enough in your eyes.
  11. Overworking: With perfection being the only option, you spend countless hours and sacrifice your personal time, well-being, and relationships on your work.

It’s important to note that everyone may exhibit some perfectionistic traits occasionally. Instead of being too hard on yourself, try embracing self-compassion and understanding. Recognize that perfectionism is a common struggle, and that growth and progress are more valuable than striving for an unattainable ideal.

However, if these tendencies significantly impact your well-being, relationships, and overall quality of life, it would be beneficial to explore strategies for managing and overcoming perfectionism. Working with a life coach or burnout coach can provide further insight and guidance tailored to your specific situation.

How perfectionism holds you back

As much as you want to see the positives of perfection, truth be told, perfectionism is something that can end up holding you back in many ways.

  • It can negatively affect your mental health leading to
    • Anxiety and stress
    • Depression and low self-esteem
    • Relationship challenges
    • Physical health challenges
  • It can negatively affect different areas of your life:
    • Work-related stress and burnout
    • Not following through and underperforming
    • Impaired creativity and decision-making at work
    • Relationships and social interactions
    • Difficulty accepting criticism and feedback

Where do these patterns come from?

Our upbringing, education, and societal influences often bombard us with subtle and not-so-subtle messages, urging us to embody an unattainable standard of beauty, success, wealth, and fairytale-like relationships.

Perfectionism may have been modeled by your caregivers growing up. Was a parent extremely hard on themselves when making mistakes? Did your caregivers have extremely high standards of you at school or in sports? Or maybe you were simply praised you when you did well in school and you learned you could make a stressed out parent happy that way.

The deeply ingrained belief that you must be perfect in your work and relationships can also originate from past painful experiences that are stored in the subconscious mind. When you heal those painful experiences and release them from your mind-body-energy systems you become able to accept your humanness, flaws and all. By doing so, you liberate yourself and unlock the freedom to embrace your true, authentic self.

Join me next week when I’ll dive into how to let go of perfectionist patterns and why vulnerability is the opposite of perfection.

Chao for now,
Coach Mary Ellen

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Mary Ellen Flesher Blog

Hey there, I'm Mary Ellen

Life Coach And Breathwork Facilitator

Here you’ll find
• inspiration for keeping a clear head amid the daily stress
• how to live in alignment with your true self
• stories from my own healing journey


Feeling stuck, overwhelmed, burnt-out? Schedule your free call and experience coaching with me first hand. I’ll help you get clear about where you’re stuck and what your next steps are to move forward.