Category Archives: Perfectionism

Self-Esteem (Part 3)

For the last few posts, I’ve been talking about self-esteem. Today, I’m going to finish off this topic with “how to think about yourself.”


First thing you have to do is break any habit of thinking negatively about yourself. Trying to work on your self-esteem without doing this necessary step, is like trying to get 6-pack abs through vigorous exercise without cutting out your consumption of junk food. The big difference is, even a little taste of negative thinking will not add any happiness to your life. This first step is not easy to do because many of us are addicted and we keep on relapsing. Cut negativity out of your life cold-turkey and rewire your brain to think positively about yourself in all circumstances.

When you notice that you are different, believe and meditate on the thoughts “I am wholly acceptable,” “I am beautiful just the way I am.”

Next, when you notice the gap between where you are now and where you would like to be, believe and meditate on the thoughts “I have incredible intrinsic worth now,” “I am good enough as a person now,” “Maybe not so immediately, but I will reach my goals.” And meditate on the same thoughts when you face rejection, failure, and others just straight-up put you down.

“Yeah that’s a nice, fluffy concept, Daniel. But how am I supposed to believe that I have incredible worth if everything around me tells me that I don’t?”

This is where perspective comes in. You have to ask yourself, “why do the things around me that tell me that I don’t have value” matter? “Why is it easier to not take it so seriously when I am put down by a toddler who doesn’t know me at all VS when I am put down by an adult who knows me very well?” It is because we think the adult knows more, that the adult is more intelligent, that the adult has more experience and understanding to judge more accurately. Now, as long as you believe that adults, including yourself, have the greatest ability to judge accurately, your view of yourself will always be vulnerable to the judgment of humans.

But what if you were able to really stretch your imagination. What if you were to believe that there possibly might be an entity that has an even greater ability to judge accurately than humankind… that this entity, being omniscient, knows everything about you, even all the things you try to hide from everyone else. And still, this higher being finds so much value in you, regardless of your performance. A good human parent may love his or her child whether or not the child colours within the lines. What if this higher power loves you and finds great value in you even when you don’t “colour within the lines” in life.

This is what I choose to believe in and it has given me so much freedom in my life.

What you choose to believe about yourself, whether it is based on measurable evidence or not, will affect your self-esteem.


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Self-Esteem (Part 2)

In my last post, I talked about some events that we all go through in life: (1) when we notice that we are different, (2) when we notice the gap between where we are now and where we would like to be, (3) when we face rejection and failure, (4) and when others put us down. These are all normal parts of life. Whatever thoughts you meditate on about yourself, though, can shape your self-esteem. In this post, I’ll discuss some of the common unhealthy ways we might think about ourselves.

When we notice we are different, negativity may sound like this: “The way I am is unacceptable,” “I need to be like them in order to be acceptable.” These beliefs will cause you to try to make changes to yourself when change is not necessary. If you are rewarded with a feeling of acceptance after giving into this lie, that’s not good. The act of changing then becomes your defense mechanism and you can become dependent on this unnecessary activity. Your personal sense of acceptance from doing this will only last a short time before your core belief about your differences resurfaces and you go back to thinking “the way I am is unacceptable.”

When we notice the gap between where we are now and where we would like to be, negativity may sound like this: “I am not good enough the way I am,” “I need to reach this point in my life to be good enough.” Although self-improvement is a good thing, these unforgiving beliefs will cause you to overexert yourself, possibly to the point of workaholism, and for most of the time, you won’t feel good about yourself.

Next, rejection and failure. Yes, a lot of times, not always, we experience rejection and failure because we may not be good enough in our abilities. But a lot of people, in the face of rejection and failure, think “I’m not good enough… as a person.” Thinking like this is unhealthy. With this kind of thinking, you develop a dependence on acceptance and success to give you a sense of worth. Perfectionism also results from not learning how to be ok with rejection and failure.

And finally, there are times when others just straight-up put you down. Who are they to sum you up and judge your value as a person? But if you believe the negative judgments about yourself, it will break down your self-esteem.

In my previous post, I mentioned that habitually thinking negatively about yourself could lead to low self-esteem, social anxiety, and perfectionism. There’s a lot more. You’ll be dependent on your different control mechanisms to regulate your sense of worth. You’ll think you deserve less or more in life by how your performance fluctuates. You won’t be able to help but judge the value of others in the same twisted way you judge your own value. And you’ll be less happy. It sucks.

So how do we turn this around? You’ll have to wait for my next post.

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We are all different from one another. We look different from one another. Our body metabolizes food differently. Our brain works differently. We experience the outside world and our emotions differently. We both outrun and lag a little behind the average population in different areas. These are just differences we all have.


Every one of us also has a vision of what it might look like to be the best version of ourselves. It’s very similar to the vision of utopia I talked about in my last post. Because of this vision, we may notice a gap between where we are now and where we would like to be.

No matter how great you are, no matter how hard you try, you may get many doors slammed in your face, experience many failures, and be put down by others

These four things, (1) our differences, (2) this gap, (3) rejection and failures, and (4) being put down by others are all normal parts of life. No matter how normal they are, though, sometimes they make us feel bad emotionally. And when we feel bad, we are more vulnerable to thinking bad.

These are some negative thoughts that might follow: “I’m not good enough (worth),” “I need to create my worth like they did,” “I’m not beautiful,” “I need to look like them,” “Something is wrong with me,” “The way I am right now is unacceptable.”

Like I mentioned already in my post about the addiction to negativity, if you keep on meditating on these negative thoughts again and again, you can become addicted to thinking in that way about yourself. When you get to this point like I did at one point in my life, you become increasingly imprisoned by your low self-esteem, social anxiety, and perfectionism. And this is NOT where you want your thoughts to take you.

In my next post, I’ll talk about some of the common ways so many of us try to ineffectively fix this problem. To finish off this series, I’ll probably end off with explaining how to think positively about yourself.

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Psychology of Utopia

All of us have a different vision of utopia. Why are they different? Well, I like the story of the blind men examining an elephant. Our understanding may be limited to the parts of the “elephant” that we’ve touched.

Let’s say one of those blind men is Ned flanders. Ned Flanders is a Christian. His utopia is called “heaven.” Heaven is all about abundance and freedom from missing the bulls-eye. Let’s bring Lisa Simpson in. She’s a feminist and a vegan. Her utopia is one of gender equality and the ethical treatment of animals. Let’s bring Brian Griffin in. He’s an atheist whose utopian world has no religion or unscientific thinking. And finally, Stewie Griffin. His utopia is one of world domination, where he is the ruler over all people.

When these characters look at the world that they live in, they notice that the actual state of the world falls pretty far below their vision of utopia. They see all the laws, systems, and all kinds of obstacles that hinder the world from reaching their own vision of utopia. No matter who you are, this gap causes an unpleasant feeling. It can even bring up emotions of anger.

So let’s say all these characters are a bit disgruntled because of the gap that they sense. Naturally, you want to get rid of this bad feeling as soon as you can, right? So what many people do, which is actually not the healthiest thing for you to do in the long-run, is to try to immediately close this gap. As I have already explained in my post on perfectionism, this is a mechanism of escape. And the more you escape again and again from this emotion that is a normal part of life, you will forego the opportunity to build up your tolerance for this difficult feeling.

Another thing that you might be doing in attempt to close your own gap is mocking, shaming, and criticizing others who are going against your vision of utopia. While this might work, I assure you that this strategy is not very effective. As a professional motivational speaker, I can say that positivity motivates people much more effectively. Mocking, shaming, and criticizing others only isolates you and hurts others.

So what do you do instead?

Think positively and defer your gratification. Believe that everything will be ok. Let go of control and stop thinking that it’s all on you to make the world a better place.

I do have something to say to some Christians, though. Don’t think so negatively about our values being opposed and redefined. It was never these values on their own that made the biggest change in people’s hearts anyway. It was Jesus’ extravagant love. So give more of that extravagant love instead. And right now is not the time for you to give your input. Ask yourself, “where was I when the gay community felt rejected?” “Was I there to show them love?” If not, and if the gay community is not asking for your input, it’s definitely not the time to share your values in their time of celebration.

Whether you’re a theist or an atheist, whether you’re a feminist or vegan or whatever, don’t be a jerk. Think positively and be nice to others.

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Excellence VS Perfectionism

OCPD perfectionism originates from a good place, excellence.

When you have excellence in a particular area in your life, you will naturally have higher standards in that area. Maybe you’ve got excellence in cleanliness. Maybe you’ve got excellence in morals. I have excellence in story telling.

What this means is that you have a clearer picture in your head of how amazing things could be. You see all the small details that make up that beautiful end result. Your mind downloads all these strategies on how to produce that end result. It’s not easy bringing things up to your high standards. So naturally, you’re a very hard worker in this area. And when your vision of excellence comes to life, it fills your heart with excitement and other people also go “Wow!” Excellence is an amazing quality to have and it can really bring a lot of positive changes to the world.

It does come with some challenges though. If in your head it is so clear that things could be much better, there is a gap between how things are and how things could be. The existence of this gap can be quite emotionally disturbing. When children first experience this, their natural instinct is to remove this disturbing feeling right away. “I don’t like how this feels. I need to find a way to make it go away.” So what many children will attempt to do is close this gap, not by bringing their bar down – because you cannot unsee the excellence that has already been implanted into your head – but instead, by bringing how things currently are up.

Now on the outside, this is going to look quite promising. You’ll see that your child is working very hard. You might be like, “Wow, my child already has such great work ethic!” But it is very possible that, underneath it all, anger and frustration may be beginning to well up inside of him because, no matter how hard he tries, it seems like that gap just won’t go away. This anger may grow until it causes the child to finally explode. By this point, the child decides that it’s just not worth it to keep going. He gives himself immediate gratification in the removal of this discomfort.

Immediate gratification is not good in the long run. By doing this, this child foregoes his opportunity to build up his tolerance for this discomfort. So if he continues to do this throughout his life and no parent or teacher stops him, he may grow up to be an adult who is equally incapable of handling this difficult emotion as his child-self. It will overwhelm him and cause him to have an all-or-nothing approach to his work. This is called perfectionism.

Perfectionism is the dark side of excellence. Rather than being pulled by your love for excellence, you’re pushed by your anxiety and displeasure of that “gap.” There is no grace. No room for error. Along the way, there’s so much stress and frustration. Perfectionism is so outcome focused that you are likely to antagonize yourself and everything else that seems to get in your way of removing that gap. So perfectionists often get angry at others. And even when perfectionists get their way, their satisfaction is very short-lived. It lasts just until another “gap” reappears.

Highly sensitive people and gifted children and adults are most likely to be affected by this.

If you want to set your children up for success, help your children experience delayed gratification. When their anger begins to boil inside of them, help them calm down. Show understanding of this frustration that they feel. Encourage them to invest their time into activities that will help them achieve their vision of excellence, such as practice. And encourage them to return back to their work, try and try again, and think positively all the way through.

If you’re an adult who struggles with perfectionism, push yourself to do the same thing too. It’s never too late.

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