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From One Perfectionist to Another

Updated: May 8, 2023

By: Miller Lowry, Clinical Coordinator & Executive Function Coach

Are there any perfectionists out there? Are you always beating up yourself to do things better, faster, and just right? I can relate.

As someone who has ADHD and ASD, I find my perfectionism adds balance but creates a conundrum. You see, one side of my brain struggles to stay organized and the other has the urge to “always do it right.” Throughout this journey, I have come up with many useful tips for staying off the perfectionist’s hamster wheel as much as possible. For the sake of this blog, I will share three.

Tip #1: Remain Calm and Present. While this may sound cliché, it really seems to help in times of stress or over stimulation. For example, even during downtime it’s easy for my mind to wander to all of the things I’m not doing, which then creates a cycle of anxiety, fear of not doing enough, or accusatory thoughts about how lazy I am. If I remind myself to stay present and do simple deep breathing this helps me center myself. After a few deep breaths and time to feel the presence of the moment, I focus on the important parts of a stressful task. Or, if I need to have some downtime, then I can be fully present, actually relax, and enjoy the break.

Tip #2: Keep Plans Clear and Simple. This is imperative for me because it keeps me from being easily overwhelmed. I sometimes find myself feeling as if I need to tackle everything all at once. If I break down my plans into simple steps this allows me to accomplish each step without the dreaded “overwhelm” creeping in.

Tip #3: Remember You Are Human. I don’t know about you, but I often need to remember that we all can “drop the ball” at times. We must remind ourselves that it’s not physically or mentally possible to do everything exactly how and when we’d like. And we sure can’t please everyone no matter how hard we try. We must be mindful and remember our present self is – and will be – enough. It’s so important to practice forgiveness. While others may misunderstand us, I find I am my harshest critic and need to regularly forgive myself for being a judge and jury for my shortcomings and imperfections. Being human does not mean being perfect. In fact, I find that imperfection is part of the job.

I hope these tips will challenge you to notice the difference between what your perfectionism tells you versus reality. Why not try it and see?


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