As someone who struggles with anxiety, this is one topic I’ll never stop writing about. Anxiety can be crippling and can get the best of us. Just when we think we are about to get our stuff together anxiety sets in. one of the reasons we have anxiety is struggling with perfectionism. This is especially the kind of perfectionism that arises from fear of failure. Perfection can stand in the way of our creativity and hinder us from being our best selves.
Perfectionism causes anxiety. When you are so eager to be perfect in what you do, this is where anxiety arises. Perfectionism anxiety arises from wanting to be so perfect and fearing failure.
How can we overcome the anxiety that results from perfectionism? How can we stop feeling anxiety due to our fear of failure and go out there and be our best selves? I have some tips.
“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of good”- Voltaire
Develop a growth mindset
There are two books that I love that discuss mindset and how changing your mindset can be life-changing. These books are; Mindset by Carol Dweck and Grit by Angela Duckworth. The opposite of a growth mindset is a fixed mindset. When you have a fixed mindset, you tend to view perfection as the ultimate goal. You only attempt something when you expect that you will be perfect at it and there is no chance of failure. A fixed mindset makes you see that failure is not an option and you wake up every day being afraid to fail.
However, when you have a growth mindset, you are not seeking perfection. You are not working on something because you are excellent at it, you are working on it to achieve something in the end and learn through the process. Having a growth mindset makes you not worry about looking bad when you fail. With such a mindset, you will not be afraid of failure since you are not seeking perfection and as a result, you will not experience horrible anxiety. I have discussed how you can develop a growth mindset.
Learn how to recognize perfectionism
Often when you feel anxious, you don’t know what is causing it. Anxiety caused by perfectionism is whereby you feel anxious because you didn’t do something as well as you would have wanted. If you made a mistake at work, an error of judgment, or simply an error at work, you criticize yourself so hard for the mistake. This is perfectionism and not allowing yourself to be human and make a mistake.
If you have trouble meeting your own standards and you feel frustrated while trying to meet your standards, chances are you could be struggling with perfectionism and it is making you anxious all the time.
You struggle with perfection if you find yourself making statements such as;
- Anything less than perfect is not acceptable
- Asking for help means I am weak
- If I make a mistake I will look stupid
- Making a mistake is so humiliating
- They will think I am lazy for not getting it done
- I should have seen that coming and prepared for it
- That was a stupid mistake, I shouldn’t have done that at all. It is not acceptable.
Consistency –create more, produce more
Accept that not everything you create is going to be a masterpiece. If you produce a large amount of work, not only is one of those works going to be awesome, you will get better at it with time. The more you create, the more you get used to the process that it does not give you so much anxiety anymore. Consistency helps you get used to the process that it does not give you so much anxiety anymore.
You are likely to feel more like a failure if you are constantly comparing yourself with others. Comparison is the thief of joy. Always remember that our definition of success is different and comparison will only leave you feeling inadequate. Instead of constantly comparing out with others, focus on yourself. I know this is not easy, especially in the era of social media where people seem to be living their best life and you are here struggling.
Remember that people only post the good parts of their lives on social media. They don’t show you the struggles, the anxiety, the self-doubt, and all the unglamorous parts. You can check out how you can stop comparing yourself and see if it helps reduce your anxiety.
Define what success means to you
Define what success means to you. Our definition of success is different. One person feels successful when they make travels to awesome destinations all the time. Another person feels successful when they have made investments and are secure about their future.
To another person, success is when they have peace of mind, and they are on good terms with their family and loved ones. What does success mean to you? If you are afraid of failure, what are you afraid of failing at? Failing at work, family, business, career? When you define what matters to you, contentment will come to you much more easily.
Stop seeking validation from the wrong people
Stop seeking validation from all the wrong people. Where do you seek validation? Are you feeling like a failure because your friends are taking vacations all the time and you don’t feel financially secure enough to do so? Are you feeling like a failure because you don’t belong to a certain social class you would have loved to belong to? Look around your circle and try to understand what exactly is giving you anxiety.
Sometime back, I realized that social media, especially Instagram was bringing me so much anxiety as many people seemed to be acing their goals and I was struggling with mine. I realized I was seeking validation from people that don’t even know me. I decided to avoid social media and my anxiety was significantly reduced.
Do what you need to do despite the fear
If you find yourself refraining from doing something because you think you will not be good at it, that is perfection building up and you are afraid you will fail. The truth is, we will always feel afraid. The question is if we listen to fear, will we ever do anything? We won’t. The one way to deal with the fear of failure is to get things done even when we are afraid. I have written about how to deal with the fear of failure and you might find this useful.
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
Or listen to any of these books on Audible Free Trial