Overcoming Perfectionism with Mindfulness

Goodpal By Goodpal, 21st Jul 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/20832sqy/
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Mind & Spirit>Mental Health

Perfectionism is a burden. It can ruin relationships, work ethics, as well as time management. Above all it kills happiness and joy of life. However, a subtle change in the attitude and incorporation of mindfulness in daily routine can bring significant changes and joy in life.

The Burden of Being a Perfectionist

A perfectionist is always restless because whatever he does is not perfect enough. As a matter of habit, his mind is always focused on the 0.01 percent defects in a task that is 99.99 percent perfect. For him it is almost intolerable if someone ever gets to notice that 0.01 defect. That drives him up to keep working to cover up this tiny fraction of imperfection.

This habit throws away all time management assuming that it is ever a concern. Irony is that, this 0.01 percent imperfection starts taking 100 percent time.

Here is a typical Mr perfectionist with his typical problem: I have always been a high performer and have constantly striven for perfection in my work. The problem is that when I make a mistake, I keep thinking about it for days and even have difficulty clearing off my mind and going to sleep.

It is a fact that the habit of rumination is often debilitating. The solution is to help the obsessed mind take interest in other things and put life in perspective. It requires change in the mindset from a perfectionist to that of a mindful person. It can inject greater sense of satisfaction in one’s overall life.

Practicing Mindfulness

A mindful mental state is one where a person experiences a stronger sense of being, rather than doing. This perspective enables the person to focus more on what is going on in the present rather than ruminating about the past or becoming anxious about the future.

There are numerous studies to show that cultivating mindfulness in daily routine tasks decreases the level of psychological distress. Becoming mindful involves getting connected to senses, emotions, and thoughts while doing daily tasks. You don’t have to do something special to practice mindfulness.

For example, when taking a shower, notice if your mind is already at work, bring it back to noticing the sensations of the water on your body and on the smell of the soap. When eating your meals during the day, pay attention to the tastes and how the food is being chewed and swallowed. When you're listening to a co-worker, notice your own body language. While driving pay attention to your body, all the movements, movement of your hands on the steering, and what is going on in your mind. Use your time at red signals just to breathe and noticing its quality – is it heavy or shallow?

These exercises will force you to become more aware of the present and will help you become a better listener and a keen observer. However, you will still notice the perfectionist habit coming back again and again. Then instead of beating yourself up, find understanding in your circumstances. Learn, forgive yourself, and move on. If you are open to meditation, learning mindfulness will be far easier and faster.


Mindful, Mindful Living, Mindfulness, Mindfulness And Stress, Mindfulness Meditation, Perfectionism, Perfectionist

Meet the author

author avatar Goodpal
I am a keen practitioner of mindfulness meditation for past several years. I firmly believe in "goodness" of people, society and world. I regularly write on personal growth and social topics.

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author avatar Denise O
21st Jul 2011 (#)

Just great advice here. I am a 'recovering' A type personality. I use to make myself sick trying to make everything just perfect. For about 15 years now, I have learned it is okay if everything is not in the right place and life can be a bit messy at times. Well written and great advice. Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Goodpal
22nd Jul 2011 (#)

Thanks Denise. Quite often the society imposes certain habit traits on us that aren't very healthy. For instance, we all know how companies "encourage" employees to put in long hours.

I am glad that you are on the path of "recovery". I am sure you will succeed much sooner than you think.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
21st Jul 2011 (#)

Excellent article. Great points you make about the curse of perfectionism. Well done. Thank you Goodpal.

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author avatar Goodpal
22nd Jul 2011 (#)

Thanks Steve, I am glad that you liked the article.

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author avatar Phoenix Montoya
22nd Jul 2011 (#)

Practice mindfulness. Then, we'll have to take everything slow. An excellent reminder for me, thanks.

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author avatar Goodpal
22nd Jul 2011 (#)

Thanks Phoenix.

There is more to life than "speed". We can't just keep running; we need to slow down and enjoy the gifts we have.

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author avatar MAnature
30th Jul 2011 (#)

Agreed! Thank you for this great reminder :)

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