For the last couple of weeks I have been working on a magazine article that I hope will be good enough to get accepted for publication in a major magazine. Because this article is so important to me, I am putting a lot of time and work into it, writing and revising, and polishing my writing until it is perfect.

Nowadays I feel quite confident in myself as a writer, and I know that if I work long enough on something I am writing, eventually it will get better and better.

But I didn’t always have confidence in myself as a writer, or even as a human being. For most of my life I was absolutely terrified of writing even though I desperately wanted to be a writer and I knew that I had writing ability. But I was too scared to even try.

I was also scared of many other things such as talking to people and trying to make conversation with them.

Why did I have such fears? Because I was afflicted with the terrible problem of perfectionism. Perfectionism is the belief that everything must be done absolutely perfectly. I believed that if I did anything less than perfectly, it meant that I was a complete failure, a flawed human being.

I also believed that everything I did had to be perfect the very first time I did it, even if I had never done it before. If I ever had to revise something I had done, I believed this meant I was a failure. I also believed it meant I had no talent, that I would never have any talent, and that I didn’t even have a right to try to do things.

I judged myself and everything that I did very harshly. Only 110 % perfection was good enough for me to get my own approval.

This extreme perfectionism damaged my life and it severely limited my ability to accomplish anything. And I believe that many other people suffer because they have this mistaken belief that what they do has to be absolutely perfect.

One of the biggest problems about perfectionism is that when you believe you have to be absolutely perfect, you actually increase the chance that you will perform terribly. You become too nervous and you lack confidence. You become completely focused on all the things that can go wrong. You also increase the likelihood that you will be so intimidated that you won’t even try at all.

A few years ago I used to interview people who wanted to teach science classes to young children. During the interviews, I would always ask these people to tell me a little bit about themselves.

One thing I noticed was that every single person who said during the first interview that they were perfectionists, ended up doing very, very badly at this line of work.

Why? Because when they had the belief that they had to be perfect, they became tense and nervous. They couldn’t relax in front of a classroom of kids, and they couldn’t remember what they were supposed to be teaching them.

Back in the days when I though that all my conversations with other people had to be perfect or it meant I was a failure, I would get so terribly shy and nervous that most of the time I would say nothing at all.

So, I know that my belief that I was always supposed to be perfect held be back in life, and I am only now starting to be free of this terribly damaging way of thinking.

Perfectionists tend to set their standards way too high. In many situations where 70% perfection could be good enough, people who are perfectionists think they have to achieve 110%. Then, if they only get 100% perfection or 95 % perfection, they feel devastated, believing they are failures.

This way of perfectionist thinking keeps people from being able to learn from their mistakes. They lose the ability to look at their performance and decide, “This part of my performance was quite good, this part was really good, and this part could use some improvement.” By insisting on total perfection, they rob themselves of the chance to explore and learn.

If perfectionism is holding you back in life, you absolutely don’t need to attack yourself whenever your performance at something is less than perfect.

There is a huge difference between failing at something you do and thinking that means you are a failure as a person, but a lot of people who are perfectionists think that failing at a task means they are a failure as a human being.

Being a perfectionist doesn’t mean you will achieve perfection. This belief may mean you don’t even start to accomplish what you dream of, because you are too terrified that you might fail.

Very often perfectionists tend to focus so much on completing every unimportant detail of a task so perfectly that they never get around to getting the task completed.

If you have a problem with perfectionism interfering with your life, you don’t necessarily need to know where this belief came from in order to change it. You can simply give yourself new instructions and new beliefs, but you may have to tell yourself over and over again many times that it’s okay to do things less than perfectly.

Give yourself permission to be less than perfect. Stop calling yourself a failure, and stop labeling your performances as failures.

Instead, create a new label for your less than perfect performances. You can call them, “an opportunity to improve in the future”. And most important, give yourself a lot of credit for having the courage to try, and try again.

Dare to be imperfect and your life will improve!

Author's Bio: 

This article was written by Royane Real, author of several self help books. You can find many new articles that will help you improve your life at my new website at