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The Connection between Being an HSP and Struggling with Perfectionism


happy galentines pastry on table


If you have taken Dr. Elaine Aron’s Are You Highly Sensitive? questionnaire (you can find it on HSPerson.com) you know that number 17 is HSPs try hard to avoid making mistakes or forgetting things.” This trait can often cause us to learn perfectionistic behaviors.




These behaviors can show up in many forms including:


  • double- and triple-checking our work

  • not trying difficult tasks to avoid not doing it right

  • procrastinating

  • being very, very hard on ourselves

  • tweaking, changing, and fine-tuning something that is already good enough




I am a recovering perfektionist (see what I did there?) who occasionally catches myself falling back into those limiting ways in certain areas of my life. Like changing the font size ever so slightly or adjusting the color saturation on my website as if anyone would notice.


I think of my brain as a muscle, so I know I have to reign in those bad habits or else every time I want to make an unnecessary website tweak it will be that much harder to stop myself.



Some ways you can overcome perfectionistic tendencies are:


1. PURPOSELY MESSING SOMETHING UP (and just sitting with it.)

I used to fold all of my bath towels exactly the same way – trifold, seams facing

inside – so there would be blissful unity when inspecting my linen closet. I was well aware that no one but me would ever see the state of my towel storage, so this issue was not one of a fear of judgment.


I think some of this stem from wanting to decrease overstimulation to keep my

ADHD symptoms to a minimum. However, some of it felt like straight up

compulsion.


In order to decrease my need for perfectionism, I started to fold my towels haphazardly. Living on the edge, I tell you! After a while, I became desensitized to the disarray on my closet shelves.




2. USE A MANTRA

One of the ways I desensitized myself to mayhem on my closet shelves was by

repeating Done is better than perfect as I quickly and loosely folded the towels and also when I was putting them away.



I didn’t invent this mantra but reminding myself of that lesson was more powerful than I expected. I still recite it if I feel myself sliding back into the need for precision.




sponge bob looking in mirror reciting a mantra



3. CUT MYSELF OFF


If I notice myself trying to do something just right, I will stop myself all together.

Whether it is sending an email draft I have been re-revising, closing the website

editor software and telling myself it is fine the way it is, or forcing myself to head out the

door without changing my outfit one more time.


Remember, you are perfect just the way you are!


4. CALL MYSELF OUT

Going back to the website editing, I find that if I can’t seem to stop making tiny tweaks I

ask myself “is this a necessary change or a cosmetic change?” Once I have to admit that it is only a superficial change, I am able to stop doing the behavior.



I realized that I couldn’t justify taking an extra five minutes out of my already busy day to change the font of words that have already been written.


  • Necessary - Taking time to write the words

  • Not necessary - Taking time to change the font from bold to italic and then back to bold.


Unless, of course you noticed some font on my website that you felt should be in 22pt Arial instead of 18pt Times New Roman. If that’s the case, please email me at patti@successfulsensitive.com (Just kidding!)






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