How to Let Go of Perfectionism

Perfectionism is often a damaging habit that many people engage in. For some, it can be a helpful tool to motivate them to achieve their goals. However, for others, this form of self-criticism can be harmful and lead to feelings of self-doubt and low self-esteem. If you are hard on yourself, it can be tough to break the habit. But it is important to do so because being too critical can prevent you from reaching your full potential.

If you struggle with perfectionism and self-criticism, it is important to be gentle with yourself and understand that it is something you are working on. Remember that everyone makes mistakes, and you are not perfect. Be kind to yourself and focus on your accomplishments rather than your failures. When you find yourself criticizing yourself, try to stop and replace those thoughts with more positive ones. It will take time and practice, but eventually, you will be able to break the habit of being hard on yourself.

What is perfectionism?

Perfectionism is a personality trait characterized by a person’s efforts to maintain extremely high performance and productivity standards. Individuals who score high on the Perfectionism scale often have unrealistically high goals and expectations for themselves. Perfectionism is often viewed as a negative trait because it can lead to obsessive-compulsive behaviors, low self-esteem, and depression.

What is self-criticism?

Self-criticism is the tendency to be excessively critical of oneself. It can manifest in thoughts such as “I’m not good enough,” or “I should have done better.” Self-criticism can be harmful because it can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and inferiority. It can also hamper our ability to achieve our goals and affect our relationships with others.

Recognize the signs and symptoms of perfectionism

Perfectionism is a mental disorder that causes individuals to set unrealistically high standards for themselves. These individuals often have difficulty accepting any amount of criticism and are extremely hard on themselves when they don’t meet their expectations. Perfectionism can damage both emotional and physical health and lead to anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of perfectionism is the first step in getting help for this condition.

Identify the causes of perfectionism

Perfectionism is a trait that can be identified by setting extremely high standards for oneself and then becoming overly critical when these standards are not met. There are several causes for perfectionism, including:

1. Fear of failure

Fear of failure is the fear of making a mistake. As humans, we make tons of mistakes throughout life and it can be frustrating if we try to avoid them and make them anyway.

2. Fear of disapproval

Fear of disapproval is a fear of being judged, criticized, or laughed at by others. It can lead to feelings of insecurity and self-doubt and can cause people to behave in ways that are not true to themselves.

3. Coping mechanism

People can often use perfectionism as a coping mechanism for past traumas. For example, if you had a parent pushing you to be the best at a sport and you let them down.

How to let go of Perfectionism

Practice Compassion/ Positive Self-talk

There are a few different tactics that can be used when fighting perfectionism. One is to practice self-compassion and positive self-talk. This means being gentle and forgiving with oneself, even when mistakes are made. It is also important to set realistic goals for oneself and to accept that not everything will always be perfect. The way you talk to yourself can have a big impact on your performance.

Challenge Thoughts

Additionally, it can be helpful to challenge the perfectionist thoughts that are keeping us trapped in this cycle. For example, we might ask ourselves whether or not perfectionism is serving us in our lives. Finding healthy ways to cope with stress and negative emotions, such as exercise, relaxation techniques, or journaling, is important.

Finish the Process

Another way I like to fight against perfectionism is to just keep going. What I mean by this is to work on completing tasks. You can gain much more progress by finishing and repeating the entire task rather than 1 step of the process. I use to never finish a drawing because one line would bother me. Ultimately leaving the page with a few lines and an incomplete piece. By completing the process, you’ll see what you actually need to improve on instead of perfecting a small detail.

Work on “Perfecting” instead of perfection

Understand that it’s okay to make mistakes. We can learn from them and grow. Successful don’t become successful because they’re so perfect throughout their journeys. They take action and make tons of mistakes. They work on “perfecting” their craft. If you can work on “perfecting” instead of perfection, you’ll be much more open to making moves freely.

Benefits of letting go of perfectionism


Perfectionism is a dangerous habit that can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. By being hard on themselves, people with perfectionist tendencies put themselves under immense pressure that can be damaging both mentally and physically. Letting go of perfectionism can be simple. In order to let it go, it’s important to learn to accept oneself for who they are, mistakes and all. It’s also helpful to set realistic goals and practice self-compassion. With time and patience, it is possible to break free from the chains of perfectionism and live a healthier, happier life.

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