Unlocking The Trap Of Perfectionism

EFT Tapping for Perfectionism

EFT Tapping For Overcoming Perfectionism

Last year, as soon as the lockdown was declared, I wrote a list of all the things that I would do in these days.

Trying out new recipes, reading books, learning yoga, working on my research, watching movies, doing some online courses, and much more! 

As if this was the only free time I am ever going to have in life and I needed to squeeze every bit of it. I needed to make it as productive as I could and not waste a single second.

Seeing Instagram stories about the things other people were doing made me feel all the more compelled to do something new and creative.

Every night before going to bed, I would set my alarm to 5:30 am and end up waking up around 7:30 am. My ‘perfect’ morning routine would get disturbed and hence I would entirely skip it for the day.

I believed that if it had to be done, it had to be just the way I had planned. 

EFT Tapping for Perfectionism

I would sit to write my TO-DO List and include too many tasks. At the end of the day, I could not even finish half of it. Hence, my day would end with a feeling of dissatisfaction.

These constant feelings of guilt pushed me into not feeling good about myself, criticisingi myself, and questioning my self-worth.

After having given some time to think about these patterns, I realised what it was. It was Perfectionism.

WHAT IS PERFECTIONISM?

According to the American Psychological Association, perfectionism is “a tendency to demand of others or oneself, an extremely high or even flawless level of performance, in excess of what is required by the situation.” 

People with perfectionism typically believe that nothing they do is worthwhile unless it is perfect. Even when they get their desired results, they may still be unsatisfied.

They may feel that if they truly were so perfect, they would not have had to put so much efforts to achieve their goals.

What perfectionism looks like: Spending too much time writing and rewriting a two-sentence email, believing that missing two marks on a test is a sign of failure, avoiding to play a game or trying a new activity with friends because of fear of being shown up as less than perfect.

are you a perfectionist?

Now you know what perfectionism is.

Check yourself based on the following traits, whether you are a perfectionist or not.

These are a few signs that you may be a perfectionist: 

Perfectionism Quote
  • Viewing everything in extremes. Something is either very good or it's not good at all. There is no in-between.
  • Holding yourself to the standards of others' achievements or comparing yourself to others.
  • Focusing only on your mistakes and limitations and not believing when someone compliments or appreciates you.
  • Setting up a hectic and productive schedule and avoiding to take rest as you think it a waste of time.
  • Putting off tasks as you think you are not ready or competent enough to do it. 
  • Overthinking every little detail; checking things over & over.
  • Inability to take decisions.
  • Taking excessive time to complete tasks as compared to others. 
  • Setting very high expectations from yourself and from others.

New to EFT? Learn how Emotional Freedom Technique Tapping heals.

Emotional Freedom Techniques (tapping) is clinically proven to lower stress, tension, anxiety, past-trauma to enable health, happiness and vitality.

types of perfectionism

Perfectionism is seen as a great practice to follow, but when it becomes obsessive, it can take a toll on our mental health. If you could identify yourself as a perfectionist from the above points, you may surely want to know more about your perfectionism. 

The types of perfectionism (1):

1.

Personal standards perfectionism:

This type of perfectionism is the one where an individual sets high standards for themselves, in order to feel motivated. This type of perfectionism is not thought to be unhealthy, as it does not lead to excessive stress or burnout. 

2.

Self-critical perfectionism:

Self-critical perfectionism is more prone to making an individual feel intimidated by the goals they set for themselves rather than feeling motivated. They may more often feel overwhelmed or hopeless or that their goals will never become reality.

According to research this type of perfectionism is more likely to lead to negative emotions, such as distress, anxiety, avoidance. and self-sabotage. 

3.

Socially-prescribed perfectionism:

This type of perfectionism is developed in an individual because of the high expectations set by the society. They feel pressurised to meet unrealistic goals to feel accepted and respected in the society.  

For example, students are expected to perform exceptionally well in academics; women are expected to have the perfect body etc. 

The rising use of social media apps like Facebook and Instagram - where everyone from ordinary public to celebrities portray a happy and perfect life - is one huge contributing factor to this type of perfectionism. 

a deeper look at perfection

On a personal level, perfectionism is about creating an ideal self-image and setting unrealistic goals and expectations. People who constantly strive for perfectionism are very self-critical and measure their self-worth based on their achievements.

There is a need to control everything and it often makes them feel stressed and overwhelmed. This leads to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, eating disorders, and other mental health problems.

Perfectionists also tend to fall prey to procrastination because they won’t do something until they find it perfect.

Their fear of failure doesn’t allow them to start their work and they continue to put off their goals. Most of the time, perfectionists are unhappy with themselves as they are too harsh on themselves and dwell on negative feelings when their goals go unmet.

Many of us were raised in environments were we were expected to be the "good boy/girl". We may have been punished for making mistakes, expected to always excel at we do, get good grades, look neat and tidy, and behave well with others.

These expectations that were put on us as children, may have become our own inner voice. 

As you may have been criticised for your mistakes as a child, your inner critic still pops up every time you mess up even a little bit. 

This leads to a fear of making mistakes, or a fear of failing, which eventually leads to a tendency of procrastination. 

This is how the loop goes: Constant criticism and lack of appreciation results in a low self-esteem; this feeling of not being good enough, leads you to question your abilities, which creates a fear of making mistakes. 

This fear does not allow you to take decisions or get started with something new. As you can't execute what you want to, you end up criticising yourself, and the cycles continues. 


"Perfection looks for what is wrong. Excellence looks for what is working, and seeks to create more."

- kerry zurier


difference between healthy and unhealthy perfectionism

Until now, we focused upon the negative side of perfectionism. But, research shows that there are both healthy (adaptive) and unhealthy (maladaptive) aspects of perfectionism.

According to the types of perfectionism that you read above, personal standards perfectionism, is a healthy form of perfectionism, if it's not excessive.

This is because expecting some level of perfectionism motivates one to get better results. But when this perfectionism turns obsessive, it does not even allow you to get started with work, let alone motivate you.

So, how do you check if you have a healthy perfectionism or an unhealthy one? Well, here are a few differences between the two that may help you to find out (2).

ADAPTIVE PERFECTIONISM

  • Focused inward- what can I do to be a better version of myself?
  • Setting realistic goals and accepting that there may be obstacles, and things are never perfect
  • Setting high standards, but keeping them within reach
  • Accepting failure or disappointment and not letting it define you
  • Mistakes are an opportunity to grow and learn
  • Open to critical feedback without it impacting your worth
  • Being present in the process and not only striving for an outcome

MALADAPTIVE PERFECTIONISM

  • Focused outward- what will others think of me?
  • Setting goals are the only motivation, your worth is tied to being "perfect" at tasks and goals.
  • Setting high standards that are beyond your limits or mental & physical capacity
  • Struggling to accept failure or disappointment and letting it define you
  • Mistakes are unacceptable and must not happen
  • Critical feedback takes a hit on your self worth
  • The outcome is the main focus, and it must be the perfect or desired outcome

How To Self-Heal & Become An EFT Practitioner

Discover how EFT Tapping can help you to self-heal or to become professionally qualified as a Certified EFT Practitioner. Emotional Freedom Techniques (Tapping) is clinically proven to lower stress, tension, anxiety, past trauma to enable health, happiness and vitality.

how to overcome perfectionism?

Ways to overcome perfectionism: 

1.

accept yourself

Learn to be at peace with yourself irrespective of your accomplishments. Many times we strive to achieve more and more because we compare ourselves with others and try to meet the benchmarks of success that are set by society. Love yourself enough to respect your individuality and focus only on outdoing yourself daily.

You could begin by mindful of your inner critic and re-framing what you tell yourself. Here are few examples: 

  • Instead of saying, "I could have done better"; say this, "I did my best and learned how to do better in the future"
  • Instead of saying, "I feel like a failure"; say this, "I am not defined by my achievements"
  • Instead of saying, "I need to be good at everything I try"; say this, "I embrace getting out of my comfort zone"
  • Instead of saying, "This needs to be perfect"; say this, "Done is better than perfect"
  • Instead of saying, "I am so overwhelmed I don't know where to start" ; say this, "What is the very first step I can take?"

2.

Focus on the process:

Perfectionists fail to please themselves because they always expect the best results. We need to understand that growth is a gradual process, and nothing can be achieved overnight.

Instead of chasing perfectionism, the focus should be on the little progress that is made each day.

While not being able to meet the unrealistic targets, brings about guilt and negativity, this will not only make us feel good about ourselves but also positively motivate us to do even better the next time.

3.

Appreciate Yourself:

As perfectionists are highly self-critical and always looking forward to the next best thing, they often overlook the little great things that they have achieved and learned.

They don’t realise that many of the things they achieved today were the things they had dreamt about in the past. Acknowledge your progress and pat on your back every now and then. It is a great way to keep going towards our goals without feeling low.

4.

Forgive Yourself:

We are always ready to give second chances to others. Then why can’t we do the same with ourselves? Instead of beating ourselves up for our failures and mistakes, we need to be kind and considerate with ourselves.

We are humans and we are allowed to make mistakes. Let’s tell ourselves “it’s okay and I’ll do better next time.” The voice in our head should always be kind to us.

5.

Begin with small goals:

Instead of expecting yourself to wake up at 5 am from tomorrow, start with waking up at least 15-20 mins before your usual time, and then gradually reduce the time. This is a practical and realistic approach to achieving anything. Instead of trying to fly off to the goal and end up falling, begin with baby steps and raise the level of your steps day by day until you reach your goal.

Here are a few affirmations you can say to yourself or write down in your journal, to help with perfectionism: 

  • I love and accept myself
  • I let go of the need to other people's approval
  • I am enough. This is enough. I have enough
  • I am worthy
  • I am whole
  • I focus on my own journey and my unique path
  • My worth does not depend on my work
  • My worth does not depend on my productivity
  • I own my story
  • I trust the process
EFT Tapping for Perfectionism

how to use eft tapping to overcome perfectionism?

In the pursuit of perfectionism, what you are seeking is to be good enough.

When you realise that you are good enough the way you are, the requirement to chase after perfectionism will dissolve like pouring water over salt.

So how can you uncover the root cause of perfectionism and clear it?

Here are 3 steps to overcoming perfectionism:

1.

uncover beliefs related to perfectionism

A great question to uncover the root cause of perfectionism is to ask the question, I have to be perfect, or else? Some possible answers are:

  • I have to be perfect or else they will abandon me
  • I have to be perfect or else I will never be loved again
  • I have to perfect or I will be punished
  • I have to be perfect or else they will make fun of me
  • I have to be perfect or else I will get in trouble

What happens is, at an early age, the child does something and an authority figure might get mad at them. So not being perfect feels dangerous and unsafe. I remember Carol Look sharing a case where there was a lady who as a child was locked by her teacher for being naughty. As that early age the child learnt that it was not safe to be naughty ever again. As an adult she became serious and shut-down her fun loving side.

EFT is a great tool to use to release the limiting belief.

Examples of tapping sequences based on EFT are (For those new to EFT, you can download a free booklet:

"Even though its not safe for me to get it wrong as I will be punished, I love and accept myself."

"Even though if I get it wrong my father with take his love away, I love and accept myself."

"Even though if I am not perfect, people will make fun of me and humiliate me and I would rather stay small then face those feelings again, I love and accept myself."

2.

Finding the root memory related to perfectionism

Once you uncover a belief linked to wanting to be perfect, explore when the belief was learnt. Usually this exploration uncovers a memory at the root cause of the perfectionism. In many cases, the memory might be in the conscious awareness. However, tapping helps to connect the memory with the dysfunctional behaviour.

EFT Tapping allows us to connect the memory to the current behaviour that the person is unhappy with.

I recall being at school in Hong Kong and feeling like no one wanted to be friends with me. I felt so imperfect and unlovable.

It caused me to withdraw and avoid making friends, and to this day I get scared of going to parties or gatherings where I might not be as familiar with the people there.

A great question to uncover a memory linked to perfectionism is, "What incidents in life taught me not to take a risk?" Then tap on the memory uncovered.

New to EFT? Learn how Emotional Freedom Technique Tapping heals.

Emotional Freedom Techniques (tapping) is clinically proven to lower stress, tension, anxiety, past-trauma to enable health, happiness and vitality.

3.

self-acceptance

Perfectionists do not accept themselves - they are forever saying to themselves that they are not good enough or that they are not doing good enough.

Jessica Ortner from the Tapping Solution in a podcast with Carol Look uncovered a memory at the age of 9, when she felt terror and fear because she was not perfect and fitting in.

The tapping sequences used were:

"Even though I have to be perfect or else I will be criticised and it is terrifying, I deeply love and accept myself."

"Even though there were 4 kids circling around me and making me feel imperfect, I love and accept myself."

"Even though I am terrified of being criticised again, I remember what happened last time and I was scared, I love and accept myself anyway."

"Even though I am afraid they are going to critiscie me again and I never want to feel that way again, I accept who I am am and choose to be imperfect"

"Even though I am not sure I can take it again, I deeply and completely accept myself."

"Even though I felt attacked just because I did not fit in, I deeply and completely accept myself."

The tapping sequences used were:

  • Even though I have to be perfect or else I will be criticised and it is terrifying, I deeply love and accept myself
  • Even though there were 4 kids circling around me and making me feel imperfect, I love and accept myself
  • Even though I am terrified of being criticised again, I remember what happened last time and I was scared, I love and accept myself anyway
  • Even though I am afraid they are going to critiscie me again and I never want to feel that way again, I accept who I am am and choose to be imperfect
  • Even though I am not sure I can take it again, I deeply and completely accept myself 
  • Even though I felt attacked just because I did not fit in, I deeply and completely accept myself

To close you can say out loud the below sequences while tapping on the top of the head. 

These sequences are aimed at creating a feeling of safety irrespective of external circumstances:

  • It’s safe for me to be me
  • It’s safe for me to follow my dreams

P.S. Please find a video with Carol Look tapping on EFT & Perfectionism.

How To Self-Heal & Become An EFT Practitioner

Discover how EFT Tapping can help you to self-heal or to become professionally qualified as a Certified EFT Practitioner. Emotional Freedom Techniques (Tapping) is clinically proven to lower stress, tension, anxiety, past trauma to enable health, happiness and vitality.

In summary, EFT Tapping is an amazing tool to help you deal with perfectionism. Let’s simply accept that there is nothing or no one that is perfect in the world and chasing something that doesn’t exist will leave us empty and shattered. Failure is a part of the journey to success and it is completely fine to fall down. But remember not to stay there for too long; get up again to give it another shot!


Disclaimer: The information on this website is purely for educational purposes and does not in any way replace the requirement for medical and psychological diagnosis and treatment. Please seek professional medical and psychological diagnosis and advice for all medical and mental health conditions. It is advised to always book any consultations with qualified professionals.


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