ACT and Perfectionism 2

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE of inspirational quotes, poems and other act goodies!

Q:  What’s so wrong with being a perfectionist?

A:  It sets you up for failure.

Perfectionism is a cruel task master.  Once it’s got us under its cosh it is most unwilling to let us go.  It whispers siren songs trying to convince us that it has our best interests at heart, it doesn’t, that it won’t let us down, it will, and that if we do what it says that we won’t go far wrong, we will!

Perfectionism is not our friend.  Most of the time perfectionism leaves us feeling disappointed, miserable and exhausted.  This is not a good way to live!  If left unchecked it can destroy our health and our relationships.  Although we may have started out with good intentions, high standards are, after all, generally believed to be desirable, when high standards turn into impossible, unremitting high standards, perfectionism turns out to be not such a good idea after all.

This is where ACT can be so helpful.  ACT reminds us that perfectionism is essentially just an idea.  Our perfectionism is the result of the stories we tell ourselves, the thoughts that our mind generates.  If our thoughts are full of “oughts” and “shoulds” and “musts”, then it is likely that they are giving us a pretty hard time.  Every time our mind tells us that we are not good enough, that what we are doing is not good enough, that good enough is not good enough, we suffer.  When it tells us that only perfection will do, it is selling us a lie.

There is no such thing as perfection.  We are imperfect human beings and doing our best is surely good enough.  When we fail to take satisfaction in our achievements, imperfect though they may be, we are missing out.  When we fail to do something because we cannot do it perfectly, we are missing out.  Being a perfectionist stops us from learning the lessons that failure would teach us.  Perfectionists are afraid to fail and so they often do not try.  What a lot of life we are missing out on when perfectionism rules the roost.

ACT helps us to become aware through Mindfulness, then it offers us Defusion to show us how to defuse from unhelpful thoughts.  Perfectionist thoughts are rarely helpful.  When we are in their grip we are more likely to be moving away from where we want to go than towards it.

I wrote “PERFECTIONISM” to remind me of that.


  • Is perfectionism an issue in your life?
  • Does it work for you or against you?
  • What can you share that might be of help to others?

Please leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.







It doesn’t all have to be perfect, whatever we think perfect is,

For the price that we pay for perfection is to stress and to get in a tizz,

And it’s all just a silly illusion, this perfection that’s driving us mad,

Better far we accept we’re a little inept and let go and relax just a tad.

And we’ll find that the heavens don’t open, and no lightening is striking us dead,

And in place of the stress a perfectionist bred there’s a lightness that’s spreading instead.

And so, if we are prone to perfection let us pause to consider the cost

Every time we set standards impossibly high and let sweet satisfactions be lost.

And why is it that we’re so persistent in pursuing impossible dreams,

What a boon it would be were we able to see that perfection is not what it seems,

For it is the most brutal task master, pouring scorn when it sees us fall short,

And it never allows us a moment’s respite, keeps us stuck in the trap where we’re caught.

‘Til one day we see through its illusion, and we’re ready to then call its bluff,

So, when it starts to tell us we’ve much more to do, we respond that we’ve done quite enough,

And what pleasure there is for the taking every time we reply in this way,

For the day then becomes full of promise, as perfection is slinking away.

© Corinne Shields, 2017

If you enjoyed, “PERFECTIONISM” please pass it on, and do leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.

And just before you go …..

A final word from ACT …..

If we have reached a point when we are fed up with life being an endless report card on achievements or looks, a rather fast track to unhappiness, then hopefully we are ready to make some changes.  This is easier said than done!  After all we have been perfectionists for so long that we have become experts.  New behaviour is going to take some time to kick in!

But ACT does offer some really helpful strategies.  If perfectionism starts to rear its ugly head then it helps to remember that all these “oughts” and “shoulds” and “musts” and “have tos” are just words, just bits of language.  When we speak to ourselves in these terms we are setting up rigid, inflexible rules which create stress and tension.  They also create the likelihood of failure.  They are at the root of much of our emotional suffering, our disappointment with what life offers.

ACT reminds us of the power of language, the potential that it has to impact negatively or positively on our lives.  Even small shifts, saying “may” instead of “must”, “could” instead of “should”, “might” instead of “have to”, reduces the rigidity and creates a choice.

ACT goes one step further.  It reminds us that developing a different relationship with our thoughts, defusing from them and seeing ourselves as the Thinker and not the Thought, reduces their impact still further.

This is all good stuff, a life-line for the perfectionists amongst us.

I have just watched one of Joseph Rhinewine’s videos on Perfectionism.  You might like to go and check it out.  He reminds us that perfectionism has, at base, the common theme of “not enough”, “not good enough”.   Perfectionists have a tendency to get rid of, to discount, anything which is not perfect, which ends up being everything!  Food for thought!

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….


How about YOU?

What can YOU do just for today to ACTivate your life?

 Just for today I will ………………………

If you have read this far, please do leave your comments. How is ACT helping you?

I am a student of ACT.  I am on a journey.  I would love you to join me.

With all good wishes


Published by

Corinne Shields

I am a wife, mother, grandmother, erstwhile teacher for thirty plus years, and permanent student. I have long been interested in psychology and spirituality and enjoy writing inspirational poetry. Hence the publication of this blog at ACT Made I play golf badly, piano a little better and I love reading, writing, and all things French. I divide my time between Wales and France and enjoy travelling with my husband, Len and my dog Charlie.

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