If you are a perfectionist, you may have noticed that your high standards often backfire. Despite your best intentions, you actually accomplish less. Research confirms this. Studies also show that perfectionism frequently leads to anxiety, depression, and difficult relationships. With a gentler approach, you can still have goals and standards as a family caregiver. And you can have a more enjoyable life, as well as more companionship and support.
Perfectionism is a mental habit.
Also, the “thief of joy.” Try these proven strategies for change:
- Do a reality check. As you strive to accept imperfection be clear about the true risks of a situation. What’s the worst that can happen if you or a family member does something not up to your preferred standard? How likely is it, really, that the worst will occur? What is the more likely outcome? Is it completely unacceptable?
- Challenge your inner critic. The difference between a perfectionist and a healthy high achiever is that the latter is less “black or white” in their approach. Instead, they acknowledge gradations. “This may not be perfect, but it’s plenty good enough.”
- Look for what’s good. For every flaw you find in something you or a sibling does for your relative, stop, think, and acknowledge at least two positives.
- Celebrate small successes. Perfectionists often procrastinate for fear of not doing something well enough. To break the logjam of doubt and inaction, divide tasks into smaller pieces and then recognize each accomplishment.
- You are more than your achievements. Think about who you are, not just what you do. Write down your positive qualities. For instance, that you are “caring,” “honest,” “have a sense of humor.” Make time to be not productive and to just relax. Shift your focus to enjoy being alive and “good enough” versus intensely goal focused and frustrated.