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The Disappointing Futility of Perfectionism

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Some people are resistant to the idea of reframing things positively because they believe that focusing on what’s good about themselves and what they’re doing means they need to lower their standards.

In reality, the opposite is true: Positive self-talk allows you to leave yourself alone so that you can flourish at your own pace.

Contrary to the subtitle of this piece, learning to reprogram your self-talk is not about making it shut up. You can’t. Would that you could. But just because you can’t doesn’t mean you have to chew on self-abnegation like a bone. Spit it out, and focus on what’s right in order to build on that. This reframing technique will take some time to become habitual. Scratch that; it will probably take a lot of time. But if you stick with it, you will find yourself beginning to change your default self-responses from hyper-critical to self-accepting and innovation-seeking.

When I follow up with clients who are working on this, they will often say ‘I’m trying’. I am quick to correct them: trying infers the inevitability of failure. Mental command is not something you develop by taking shots at it. We’re talking about a lifetime of mental habits. It takes practice.

Don’t try. Practice. Then when you fail or make a mistake, which happens as we develop a skill through practice, you’ll remember to start over again.

 

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