Perfectionism, something so many of us strive for but will never achieve. It’s that thing that we all deep down know it doesn’t exist but we exhaust ourselves in trying to achieve it anyway. So why do we keep trying to be ‘perfect’? Lets take a look..

In the past two weeks of our Self-Love journey we have looked into accepting our past and discussed way we can learn from our past mistakes. In all of those past moments that you reflected on can you ever state that there was a time in which you were ‘perfect’ or has there ever been a time in your life where you have ever felt ‘perfect’ for a long period of time? Chances are that you haven’t. Why? Because there is no such thing.

Generally someone who is lacking in self love is often finding faults in who they are or how they live as a person. So on your self love journey it is important to understand that in order to love who we are we need to accept that we are not and never will be perfect.

So this week I want to reflect on four specific areas. 

  1. Understanding perfectionism.
  2. The media and perfectionism.
  3. Why you need to let go of perfectionism.
  4. How to let go of perfectionism.

Understanding perfectionism:

The strive to have the ‘ideal’ image, life, personality, wardrobe. To live a life where we have ‘no problems’ and ‘no issues’, we have no faults. People look at you and you ‘have your life together’. It can be one of those things or it can be all of those things. You are constantly competing with yourself or others in any or all of these areas to avoid feeling like a failure.

Perfectionism is a crippling fear of failure. Someone who is dealing with ‘perfectionism’ also have whats called conditional self-worth. You think ‘I am only a good person if I can achieve this, look like this, or have this’.

Perfectionism is not to be confused with self-improvement or wanting to be your best. Perfectionism is being focused on anything but yourself, you are motivated and driven by pleasing what everyone else see’s of you rather than what you see of yourself.

In my experience and form the research I have done around ‘perfectionism’ there are 3 main types you could be experiencing.

  1. Perfectionism in your life:We are brought up in an age where life is defined by going to university, having the ideal job, earning big money, working for someone else, buying a great house, paying of your mortgage, going on lavish holidays, affording everything you want and having perfect little kids and of course, no debt to your name. You are forever working towards some or all of these things because that’s what society has defines as perfect.

  2. Perfectionism in your appearance:Do you find yourself thinking ‘I should’ more so than often? One of the main red flags that stand out when identifying our need for perfectionism in our appearance is when we are constantly thinking ‘I should’. For example, ‘I should be thinner, I should have longer hair, I should be more tanned.. I should, I should, I should’. You are never looking at what you already are so you start to identify what you feel you need to be. Or more so what the world says you need to be.
  3. Perfectionism in your actions:Do you never seem to finish your tasks? If so, you more than likely you seek perfectionism in everything that you do. Nothing you do will ever be good enough. The way you act, the way you perform in business and personal life nothing ever seems to be good enough. When you  strive for perfectionism in your actions, it stops us from being able moving forward in life. You will always take half a step forward and two steps back.

Most of us don’t know what perfectionism looks like because we have never experienced it, but what we do know is what it doesn’t look and feel like. That being reality

Why you need to let go of perfectionism: 

More than likely, if you are experiencing a need for ‘perfectionism’ then it’s time to let it go. When we are aiming for perfectionism in any area of our life we will never be able to experience the joy of accomplishment.

Why? Because a perfectionist will never see the result they desire, no matter how far they have come in whatever it is they are trying to achieve a perfectionist will always find a fault or something needing to be changed.

Here are a list of some of the downsides of being a perfectionist which may be getting in the way of your life.

  • Skewed view of reality – This one I feel speaks for it’s self. Being a perfectionist means you most likely you have a view of the world and people in it as ‘ideal and perfect’ therefore you strive to be as such.
  • Deep seated unhappiness – Perfectionists tend to deal with struggles internally. Because there is no such thing as ‘perfect’ you are setting yourself up to achieve the unrealistic and the impossible. Therefore when you let yourself down you beat yourself up more than normal. Telling yourself negative things like ‘I suck at this’ or ‘
  • Disregard for your health – This could mean two things. The first, you neglect your health because you are too focused on perfecting your work. The second, you are too focused on achieving an ‘ideal image’ that you take your training and eating to an unhealthy level.
  • Compromised relationships – This is one I have been guilty of many times and something I am always working on. I get too focused on my work that my relationship with friends and family can sometimes suffer or be neglected. I wont be in the ‘present’ most times because I will always be trying to perfect my work.

Perfectionism and the media

I wanted to add this little part in because I think it’s very relevant and extremely important. In my opinion, perfectionism is an illusion created by no one else but brands and the media. I want to ask you a question to challenge your thoughts on this subject.

  • If you loved yourself just the way you are would you feel the need to buy what the media is selling to you?
  • Have you or do you buy things you have seen from advertising campaigns in belief that it will look and make you feel better about yourself?

If so, the issue with filling this void of being perfect is only a short term fix. There will always be something new, there will always be something that the media is telling you that you need to have, therefore you will always be going in circles trying to achieve ‘perfection’ just like they are telling you to. To prove my point, see some advertising campaigns below. Each campaign resembling a word ‘flawless’ ‘perfect’ to make you feel like you NEED this in order to be flawless and perfect.

While it is great to enjoy these products just as I do, it is important to read the lines between the marketing campaigns and realise that these products will not bring your perfectionism, they will not bring you self love, they will not make you happy.

You must understand that their end goal isn’t there to make you feel great about yourself, their end goal is to see the figures increase in their sales. At the end of the day by buying these products you will NEVER look like the girl in the advertisement, the girl in the advertisement doesn’t even look like that. You are buying a photo shopped version of her reality.

How you can let go of perfectionism: 

Challenge your thoughts:

If you are walking around with this ‘perfect facade’ in who you think you should be, before we talk about letting it go lets reflect on some questions as to why we may be striving for perfectionism.

  • Are you doing it because you are afraid of showing the world you are flawed?
  • Are you afraid you won’t measure up to what society expects from you?
  • Are you afraid of failure?
  • Just as I mentioned above, are you buying these products to make yourself feel perfect?

If yes, ask yourself this:

  • What is so wrong about being flawed?
  • Why do other peoples opinions matter?
  • What is wrong with failure?
  • For who do I need to be perfect for?

Asking yourself questions to challenge your thoughts brings awareness to your negative self-dialog. By often taking the time out to challenge your thoughts you are teaching yourself to recognise them easier in the future, this leading to deflate any negative thoughts you may have.

Practice self-compassion: 

Often when we fail our fear and our perception of ourself becomes extremely exaggerated. This happens because we have fallen in a trap of not allowing ourselves to make mistakes nor do we allow ourselves to believe that we can or should be allowed to make mistakes.

We need to accepting and understand that mistakes are a part of life, they will happen over and over again. It’s called human error. Allowing ourselves to understand that also allows ourselves to have self-compassion towards ourselves for when we do fail. Like we spoke about in last weeks phase 2, your mistakes will be now understood as a normal part of the learning process, not as failing.

Set yourself realistic goals:

Small goals are smart goals, why? Because by setting yourself smaller and more achievable goals you are more than likely going to succeed. Personal and professional growth takes numerous baby steps until you achieve the bigger picture.

For example, someone who is trying to achieve weight loss rather than looking at the large picture of the amount you want to loose, set yourself an achievable goal or ‘1kg per week’. Having 1kg in mind is a much more achievable goal than focusing on the larger number.

So while it’s great to have goals and set them, striving for perfection will never make you feel perfect it will only make you feel inadequate. It is important to accept and remember that perfection doesn’t nor will it every exist.

In order to feel and be your best you must accept that there is no such thing as perfect, you are not perfect, you will never be perfect but in reality that’s ok! Not one person in this world is perfect but that’s what makes us unique and human. So this week, phase three of your self-love journey do your best to be aware of you need to feel or look perfect and how it is affecting your emotionally and mentally and I will see you next week for phase 4.


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12 Comments on How to overcome your need of perfectionism

  1. Milly
    October 22, 2017 at 12:53 am (1 month ago)

    I needed this today Stephanie. I love it 😍

    • Stephanie Barreca
      October 24, 2017 at 4:39 am (1 month ago)

      Thank you!!

  2. Katie
    October 22, 2017 at 3:14 pm (1 month ago)

    I gave up trying to be perfect a long time ago and it is so freeing! I often find myself messing up and just saying, “Well, what can I do to make it better?” I try to acknowledge to others as well that I don’t expect them to be perfect. No one needs that extra stress!

    • Stephanie Barreca
      October 24, 2017 at 4:40 am (1 month ago)

      Thats it, learning from your mistakes for the next time. I stopped trying to be perfect at everything a long time ago and like you said, it’s so freeing!

  3. Jillian
    October 22, 2017 at 10:24 pm (1 month ago)

    Steph, this is excellent. Twice I literally said “BOOM!” hahaha Drop the mic moments!!! This is probably my favorite line: “Perfectionism is being focused on anything but yourself, you are motivated and driven by pleasing what everyone else see’s of you rather than what you see of yourself.” I LOVE THAT. It’s SO true!!!! Sharing this with my friends now. So much love!!!

    • Stephanie Barreca
      October 24, 2017 at 4:41 am (1 month ago)

      I am now envisioning myself dropping the mic! It’s so true, thats exactly what perfectionism is! focusing on everything else but yourself! So glad you loved it! Thank you so much for sharing it too! xx

  4. Sarah Surman
    October 23, 2017 at 2:16 am (1 month ago)

    Love this post!! I read it twice to really let it sink in too ! Having dealt with severe perfectionsim throughout most of my teenage years I totally can relate to most of this post. It is true, it completely takes control of your day to day tasks you need to achieve because of a fear of never being good enough or failing. It takes a lot of self-work and rewiring and retraining of the brain to come out of a state of perfectionsim and your tips are so spot on – its all about first challenging the thought and then setting realistic goals we can actually achieve! great read xoxox S

    • Stephanie Barreca
      October 24, 2017 at 4:42 am (1 month ago)

      I can so picture you sitting there reading it twice and letting it sink in! I know you have so I totally knew this would speak to you. I think as women the thing we most struggle with is the ‘perfect image’. Thanks Sarah! xx

  5. mukta panwar
    October 24, 2017 at 12:26 am (1 month ago)

    Thanks for this beautiful article.
    We need this totally to understand life.
    You explain everything in a easy way that makes you different from other..😊💙

    • Stephanie Barreca
      October 24, 2017 at 4:45 am (1 month ago)

      Thank you! There are SO many things we need in life to understand it and we never really will perfectly. But learning what defines us is a great start for our journey! So glad you loved it and I am SO happy that you can understand my thoughts and writing. That is truly what I needed to hear today and the confirmation that I need to ensure I am steering in the right direction. Thank you xx

  6. Sarah
    October 27, 2017 at 12:01 pm (4 weeks ago)

    Letting go of perfectionism has been one of the best things I have done! It’s unrealistic. Let’s celebrate our unique, humanly selves x

  7. Teya
    October 30, 2017 at 8:19 am (3 weeks ago)

    Loved this Steph! The part about perfectionism being anything but yourself was great! It’s so true that people often mask the issue of perfectionism with the label of self-improvement…


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