Steps for Letting Go of Perfectionism as an Individual with ADHD

Many people without ADHD would assume that ADHD and perfectionism would be total opposites. Perfectionism is most commonly associated with requiring a high level of attention to details which is one of the core symptoms of ADHD. There is a strong relationship between having ADHD and being a perfectionist that many may not realize. For example, perfectionism in an individual with ADHD can lead to feelings of needing to overcompensate. You were often told to “try harder”, without fully understanding the underlying conditions of the disorder. A perfectionist with ADHD will constantly feel the need to prove their worth in order to be seen as “trying harder” as requested. Another example is an ADHD Perfectionists need help setting realistic perspectives on accomplishing tasks and personal behaviors. If this sounds like you and you are ready to let, go of your perfectionism the following step are essential to helping you overcome perfectionism.

Face the fear behind your perfectionism.

It’s normal and healthy to have aspirations however when you measure yourself by what you have accomplished, or what other people say about you, you will always feel that you fall short no matter how much you improve, it will never feel like it is not enough. That’s the fear behind perfectionism: that you’re not enough and never will be. You also need to ask yourself how perfectionism in others might have influenced your childhood and what fears came of that influence.

-Are either of your parents a perfectionist?

-Did you often fall short of a parent’s expectations?

-Did you feel you had to constantly strive for perfection to be valued?

-Were you encouraged or pressured to always look perfect?

-Was every grade or achievement measured against those of other children?

Change the words you use.

it is good to acknowledge that you are not perfect, however you don’t have to keep on reminding yourself that. Instead try to say statements such as “I’m a work in progress” or “I’m doing the best I can.” You can also say, “I’m human. And I’m learning as I go.” While you are at it, try to find other words to replace the word perfect to words like “excellent,” “fantastic,” or “amazing.” Since you don’t have to be perfect, why even use the word to describe anything about you or anyone else?

Change your negative self-dialogue.

What you say out loud to yourself isn’t the only thing that matters. Perfectionists don’t always realize the power of their inner negative dialogue. To change your inner negative dialogue, spend some time alone so you can focus on what you think about yourself, your accomplishments, or the recent job you did. Only when you are aware of your own thoughts you can correct the ones that did you harm.

Focus on your progress and on what you’ve learned from your mistakes.

Repeat this mantra to yourself: Mistakes are part of learning; they do not make you a failure. We all make mistakes, but the most important thing is what you learn from those mistakes. I tell my clients to look at the progress they have made no matter how small it is and that they deserve to celebrate that so do you. Whether you are learning how to set up a new routine to getting your bedroom clean, no one expects you to do it the perfectly the first time. That is why practice which leads me to my next tip,

Focus on the enjoying the process.

Focus on enjoying the process on changing a habit or learning something new or as I call it transforming. As an individual with ADHD you are allowed to enjoy learning something new or trying to change a habit without expecting to do something like a pro. If you approach these things as a newbie you will be more open to the process and it can be a lot more fun

Take action to build your self-confidence

I bet you know that feeling when you have something you are proud of; however, perfectionism is always sabotaging your pride and self-confidence by reminding you to compare your accomplishments to others. It is important to take to an action to counter these thoughts that will build your self-confidence.

-Make a list of things you’ve done that make you proud.

-Write down three things you like about yourself every morning.

-Repeat affirmations that resonate with you and make you feel stronger.

-Practice daily self-care, reminding yourself you deserve love and compassion

-Tell yourself — with words and actions — that you are enough as you are now. Remind yourself what you’re capable of and what you’ve learned. All of it matters.