Unlocking the trap of perfectionism

At one level perfectionism might seem like a really good quality and yet it can be an achilles heel that prevents you from realising your dreams or completing a project. 

A perfectionist is scared that if they are not perfect something bad will happen. The fear of being criticised is greater than the pleasure of completing the project. 

For example, if you have been putting off completing your accounts or writing your book what might be going on is a fear of being judged or feeling like a failure.

Procrastination is one of the symptoms of perfectionism. 

Those who know me well will know that I have been gripped by the illness of perfectionism. 

The never ending pursuit of wanting to get it right, conforming to a standard how it must be and yet crippled with self-judgement. 

Through my own journey of inner work using Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), I have come to accept what is unacceptable, ugly, imperfect and perfect.

In the pursuit of perfectionism what I was seeking was to be good enough. 

When I realised I am good enough the way I am, the requirement to chase after perfectionism dissolved like pouring water over salt.

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

Here are 3 steps to releasing perfectionism:

1. Uncover beliefs linked 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 un-safe. 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. 

For those new to EFT, download a free booklet here.

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

It can reduce stress in seconds.

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 dis-fucntionial behaviour. 

EFT 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.

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

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


Dr Rangana Rupavi Choudhuri (PhD)

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