Tips for Battling Perfectionism

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Tips for Battling Perfectionism

1. I was taught by psychotherapist and author Thom Rutledge to personify perfectionism. Name it. Describe what it looks like. I named my perfectionism, “Ms. Perfectionist,” or “Ms. P.”

2. Separate yourself from perfectionism by having a conversation with it. I found it helpful to write these dialogs in a journal and role-play with another person. By doing this I was able to distinguish between my true voice and the perfectionism. Here are some examples:

Agreeing and Obeying

Ms. P: How could you miss that word in the song?
Jenni: I feel horrible. Do you think anyone noticed?
Ms. P: Yes. Now you need to triple your practice time.
Jenni: OK. I’ll do whatever you say.

Disagreeing, Still Obeying

3. Now practice disagreeing with the negative comments. Thom taught me to mentally disagree even when I still behaviorally obeyed my perfectionism:
Ms. P: How could you miss that word in the song?
Jenni: Everyone makes mistakes. No one is perfect.
Ms. P: You still need to triple your practice time to make up for what you did today.
Jenni: OK.

Disagreeing and Disobeying

4. Separate, disagree, and disobey:
Ms. P: How could you miss that word in the song?
Jenni: Everyone makes mistakes. No one is perfect.
Ms. P: You still need to triple your practice time to make up for what you did today.
Jenni: No. I won’t do it.

5. Practice. But remember, as Thom says, practice makes practice—not perfect.

– Jenni Schaefer

Reprinted with permission from Eating Disorders Recovery Today
Spring 2005 Volume 3, Number 2
©2005 Gürze Books

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