Learning from failure: Mindfully managing expectations of perfectionism


Learning from failure:

4 tips to mindfully managing expectations of perfectionism

I’m a perfectionist. I have high standards for myself. And my expectations can get so out of hand. I have to pull myself in and be very aware of the triggers for myself. Over time I have learnt more about how I react, how I can have unhealthy expectations, and how this can be perceived by others. Mindfulness has really helped me connect with this, and in partnership with being aware of how perfectionism works, I’ve been able to curb my tendencies.

A mindful response to learning and being open to learning from mistakes is to:

1. Be able to be open to discomfort, embarrassment or uneasiness and the pressure that you put on yourself as a perfectionist. 

2. Acknowledge the failure or mistake. Notice it. Turn your attention to it rather than focus on avoiding it. Learn from it. What do you notice? What lessons can be learnt from this? Are there repeated patterns emerging for you? How do you react? What does it feel like to you? 

3. Look at the situation from a bigger perspective. Life has ups and downs. This is a good thing. It is like waves in a body of water, some crash, some break, some flow, some are larger than others. Imagine you are floating in this water, ride the waves, move up and down with these. Imagine this is how life is. 

4. Think about your life and contributions beyond just one situation or one sense of failure (and indeed success). Think about it is one element to many parts over time.

I still aim high. But I am more realistic and I now adjust. I’m mindful of this – self-aware, non-judgemental at the shift that maybe required, and I look at the adjustment from a place of curiosity wondering what might happen and change from my initial ideas. I have to remind myself of this at times. But this is a part of being mindful and curious about being a perfectionist.

If we remove the attachment of our learning to success or failure we can begin to rethink our expectations.

Every moment is a learning moment, and so much can be gathered and gained from an openness and curiosity to what the experiences is and the outcomes are. They take us on a journey itself. It also relieves the stress and anxiety that can be associated to the kind of expectations that potential impair our learning, and experiences.