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The Full Mind Weigh® to Lifelong Weight Management, a program of the Institute for Lifelong Weight Management – teaching you the skills you need to keep the weight off forever!

Are you a perfectionist? If you possess some of these characteristics, you just may well be:

  • You think of yourself in all-or-nothing terms: you either did the job perfectly, or you failed (there is no “pretty good” for you).
  • You believe that perfect is possible, and that if you didn’t achieve it then you’ve failed.
  • You hone in on mistakes and imperfections (in yourself and in others too), and tend to ignore anything else.
  • You consistently feel overwhelmed, and you feel like you’ve never done “enough”.
  • You tend to set unrealistic standards – for yourself and for others too.
  • You don’t ask for help because that would mean acknowledging that you are not “perfect”.
  • You focus on the result or end-point, and are unable to enjoy or appreciate the process or the journey.
  • You have more trouble bouncing back from disappointment than other people do, and you tend to beat yourself up when your expectations are not met.
  • You have a strong fear of failure, so much so that you sometimes procrastinate or get stuck in fear-induced paralysis, leading you to be even harder on yourself.
  • You’re afraid to try new things and to take measured risks because the outcome may not be “perfect” or you may not succeed.
  • It’s very hard for you to take in constructive criticism.
  • Most likely, your life is out of balance because in an effort to pursue perfection you neglect other areas of your life which need your energy, time and attention. As a result, your mental, emotional and spiritual “fuel tanks” are “running on empty” and you are not able to perform at your best.

Can you see how possessing some or all of these characteristics would have an impact on your self-esteem? The perfectionist never, ever feels good enough, never measures up to his or her high standards. Good self-esteem is essential for lifelong weight management success, because we have to feel good about ourselves to believe that we’re truly worth the effort that it takes.

Put perfectionism in its place

– Try to be aware of your perfectionistic thoughts – if you can’t record them as they occur, try to think back over your day and remember what you were feeling and thinking at those times when you felt you hadn’t reached the standards or goals you’d set for yourself.

– List the benefits of continuing to be a perfectionist.

– List the drawbacks of continuing to be a perfectionist.

– List the ways in which being a perfectionist has impacted you, your self-image, your self-esteem and your life in a negative way.

What have you learned from reviewing your lists?

Strategies for combatting perfectionism

  1. The power of positivity – Every time you find yourself having a perfectionistic or self-critical thought, write down at least 3 positive thoughts to counter the perfectionistic thought. As an example, my client Andrea often found herself thinking, “I didn’t get enough done today. I’ll never reach my goal”. Making lists of what she did get done that day allowed her to see that, in fact, she accomplished much more than she gave herself credit for.
  2. Create tiny goals – Perfectionists tend to set big goals for themselves. Get into the habit of breaking your goals into tiny sub-goals. This will make it much easier for you to be able to acknowledge progress along the way. Be sure to give yourself that acknowledgment for each tiny step that you take!
  3. Embrace constructive criticism – Consider that constructive criticism is something that could help you reach your goal, rather than being a personal attack.

Share your thoughts about this topic with me and with other readers by commenting on this post.

To learn about effective weight management strategies, join my next weight management class, The Full Mind Weigh® to Lifelong Weight Management. For details, visit

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With your continued health in mind,

Doreen Lerner, Ph.D.

Director, Institute for Lifelong Weight Management

Creator, The Full Mind Weigh® to Lifelong Weight Management

The Institute for Lifelong Weight Management provides education and training. The Full Mind Weigh® is strictly an educational program and is not a substitute for medical or psychological evaluation or treatment. If you think you may be suffering from an eating disorder, please consult with a qualified mental health professional who is trained to evaluate and treat eating disorders.