I am able to balance being a perfectionist by always reminding myself… I’m flawed. Not in a shameful sense but acknowledging I’m human. If I wait for the perfect moment, the perfect result, then I’ll always be waiting. Imperfections, mistakes, and failures aren’t a representation of who I am and don’t define me. They are indicators that I have some work to do.
Researcher Carol Deweck discovered people fall into two different mindsets. Fixed and Growth.
A fixed mindset is when you believe that your qualities are carved in stone. Your skills are “fixed” you either got it or you don’t. When you experience failure or difficulties with this mindset it is very unsettling because it causes you to doubt who you are as a person and your self worth.
You will feel a sense of urgency to prove yourself constantly and will get defensive over mistakes. You will interpret most situations as a direct measure of your worth and competence. Therefore, you are more likely to shy away from challenging experiences because if you fail means you are a failure. You will view Effort as a sign that you aren’t good enough.
A growth mindset is when you believe your qualities and skills can be improved through effort, different strategies, experience, and help from others. That a person’s potential is unknown because you can’t predict someone’s passion, effort, or training that they might undergo. Despite feeling frustrated and disappointed you will still be ready to take the risks, confront the challenges, and keep working hard. Effort is a good sign.
You can probably imagine how each mindset can affect our lives… A belief that your qualities are carved in stone leads to a number of thoughts and actions, and how a belief that your qualities can be developed leads to a host of different thoughts and actions, taking you down an entirely different path.
The good news is you can change mindsets. They did an experiment where they separated students into two groups. One group, the control group, were taught just the basic anatomy of the brain and how intelligence is fixed. The other group was taught how the brain can develop and get smarter through learning, effort, and trying different strategies. By the end of the semester the kids taught about growth mindset saw an increase in their grades and the control group, the fixed group’s grades declined.
Simply learning and understanding that you can get better, improve, and grow can help you pull away from the fixed perfectionist way of thinking that you have to be flawless.
We are all a work in progress. We are going to make mistakes. So make sure to give yourself some grace.
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