Have you ever scored slightly lower in a test than you wanted, and only thought about what you missed out on rather than the good percentage that you did get? Or maybe you let in one goal while playing a match, and only focus on that rather than the three goals you saved? Maybe you’ve been told you’re too hard on yourself more than once – if you’ve nodded along to any of these, chances are you’re a perfectionist.
There’s nothing wrong with having high standards for yourself, but perfectionism becomes a problem when you feel like everything you’re doing should be exactly right, when that doesn’t happen you feel like you’ve failed for not meeting your crazy high expectations.
We all make mistakes, whether they’re small or seem huge at the time, while we can set standards for ourselves, it’s the unrealistic standards we set that make these mistakes feel as if we, ourselves, are not good enough.
If this all sounds too familiar to you, there are certain things you can do to help you along the way, especially during your school year – so you’re not being too hard on yourself when small slip-ups happen.
Focus on your feedback
If you struggle the most with wanting good grades, or maybe you’re having an off moment when playing sports, whatever it may be, focus on the feedback you’re getting. Do you hear the good and can you let that in, or did you only focus on things that are more constructive, the things that you need to work on?
Most of the time, it can be easier to focus on constructive feedback as that’s what we have in mind already. But receiving constructive feedback doesn’t mean you’re doing a bad job, it’s only to help you along the way. So focus on the good, and don’t be too hard on yourself when it doesn’t all go to plan.
Listen to others
Even if all of these points seem familiar to you, listening to those close to you is one sure way of knowing if perfectionism is getting in your way. They might say ‘you seem very hard on yourself’ or ‘you always seem quick to criticise yourself’ or even notice that you may find it hard to take compliments.
If you’ve been hearing this, chances are those closest to you do think you’re too hard on yourself, and that it would be a lot better for you if you were nicer to yourself. Which leads us on to…
Treat yourself as your best friend
If it was your best friend that couldn’t quite get the cords right on the guitar, didn’t get 100% in a test or made a simple mistake, you’d never focus on the negative, or tell them that they should have done better. So why do it to yourself?
It’s perfectly okay to make mistakes, and it’s also okay to be nice to yourself after making them. You don’t have to beat yourself up over it and focus on what you could have done. It can be hard to get your head around, but remember you don’t have to be amazing at everything you do, and at every point in your life.