Are You Adding This Common Self-Inflicted Pressure to Your Day? Here’s How to Let It Go…

So often, we create a lot of our own stress by putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves. A common form of this is through perfectionism.

Are you a perfectionist? I have been for much of my life – until I realised that instead of helping me to achieve the best I could in my life, it was actually holding me back. Instead of helping me to excel, it was making me stressed and anxious and keeping me from giving things my best (imperfect) shot.

Many people have similar perfectionist tendencies, particularly at work. And as a result, they feel more stressed and anxious than they need to.

While labelling ourselves, and being labelled, as a perfectionist is often regarded as a good thing, there is a dark underbelly of downsides that can really undermine our wellbeing – physically, mentally and emotionally.

Being a perfectionist adds a lot of self-inflicted pressure. We aim to do, be, and have things perfect – to be the perfect employee, partner, parent, child, etc. We push ourselves to perform to high standards, we critique our performance, and then berate ourselves for feeling unsure about getting up and and having another go at something.

As a result, perfectionism keeps us feeling unsatisfied, focused on negatives, and with a gnawing sense of being never-quite-good-enough.

And that’s not all… it can be isolating. We don’t ask for help when we need it and we feel that we’re the only one who can do the job to our own exacting standards. And that may even be true… though it’s an unhealthy and unhappy place to be.

But there is good news… all it takes is a subtle but profound mindset shift to take a lot of this pressure and stress away.

Action Steps

All it takes is a simple decision to give things your ‘best shot’ instead of aiming for perfection. Easy to say, harder to do, but achievable with practice.

Here are 3 ways to begin taking the perfectionist pressure off…

1.    Practice self-compassion. Perfectionists tend to be more forgiving of the mistakes others make than their own. Start cutting yourself the same amount of slack.

2.    Find a new measurement. Instead of measuring your worth by what you do and how well you do it, explore your personality, your strengths, and the things that make you you. Learn to measure the quality of your character, rather than that of your accomplishments.

3.    Harness your inner critic. Make your attention to detail an asset, rather than a liability. Set yourself realistic goals and learn how freeing it can be to aim for “good” instead of “perfect”.

These will enable you to do your best without self-inflicted criticism, pressure, and stress.

Which of these could you begin practicing today?

Adele Sinclair is a wellness coach and trainer who focuses on mental wellbeing at work. She has a background in management and experienced job burnout twice as a result of ongoing work stress. If you liked this article, you'll love Adele's coaching programs to help you with strategies for a great worklife.