How to Overcome Perfectionism, Part 1: Re-think Failure

How to Overcome Perfectionism, Part 1: Re-think Failure



You probably have some kind of emotion start inside you as you read that word. And it probably isn’t positive. Maybe you add a bunch of other meaning to it as well, like the words in the gloomy cloud above. I feel a weight on me just from reading those words. For perfectionists, FAILURE is our worst fear. And nearly everything falls within that label, because anything less than perfect must be failure.

I have struggled with my thinking about failure throughout my life. Whether it is not achieving a goal I have been working toward, trying an incentive program with my kids and it not having the motivating power I had hoped it would have, losing a game I just knew we would win, or trying a new skill, only to quickly find out I’m not very good at it, my mind has gone very quickly to this word: FAIL.

Recently, I have been trying to change my thinking around FAILURE and just what it is–what it means. Here are a couple new thoughts that are helping me.


Simply put, I only fail when I quit trying. Outcomes to not define success; effort does. Wow! This is empowering, and here is why. Many times (maybe most times), outcomes are not within my control. But my effort? ALWAYS within my control.


So when I set up a reward chart to encourage behaviors, and my son wants nothing to do with it, it doesn’t mean I have FAILED. It means I just learned that that form of motivation DOESN’T WORK FOR HIM. So I’m one step closer to finding out what DOES work. SUCCESS, right??

So if you have a bad day, a bad week, or you think you want to just quit on your project of loving your body, ask yourself why. Do you think that in some way you are failing? Have failed? Try one of the thoughts above and see if it changes your perspective.

If you had a bad day, or a whole stretch of bad days, it doesn’t mean you have failed, or worse yet, that you are a failure. It just means that you can learn a whole lot about yourself. Look at it that way. What is tripping me up? What can I try differently today? What am I learning now that will help me develop healthy habits going forward? All so valuable! This is your project, and you are the best one to find out what works for you. And as long as you keep trying, you can never fail!

Always, always remember: Love your body, and your body will love you

In case you missed it:

If you want to know why Perfectionism is a problem, click HERE.

And don’t miss Part 2 in this series: Get Rid of All or Nothing Thinking.

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