Six Tips to Harnessing Your Holiday Perfectionist


At this time of year I hear from a lot of people trying to create the PERFECT holiday project.

At first it starts out well.

You’re crafting, perhaps with your kids, and it feels good. REALLY GOOD. Like caffeine surging through your body, giving you life.

And then inevitably SOMETHING HAPPENS. You know where this is going.

The handmade decorations aren’t quite right. The kids could be making them even cuter. We could be adding another layer of of glitter and shellac.

It’s becoming a seemingly-never-ending-striving-for-perfection kind of project.

Sound familiar?

At this point that surging feeling in the body starts to kick up a notch.  Like you are over caffeinated. You know what I’m talking about.

You start feeling antsy. Like you are at the edge of losing it. Your words take on a slight tone. The kids start giving you a wary look.

If you play the tape you can see what’s about to happen.

The kids will leave the table because it’s no longer fun. You end up doing it all yourself, resentfully.

Your “fun family time” has gone off the rails. An opportunity for closeness has actually created distance.

You’re annoyed at family. You’re annoyed at yourself.

What to do instead?

Here are my 6 tips so you can do your holiday projects while also feeling very present and connected with others.

  1. Ask yourself how the perfectionist part of you interacts with people. Does it help you feel closer to your family and friends or does it come between you? As your project gets more complicated are you spending more and more time alone or less than fully present when with others? Take stock. If it’s getting in the way, read on.
  2. Notice when the fun stops. At first the project is very fun. And then inevitably, at some point you start to notice an emotion. Resentment. Annoyance. Frustration. Panick. You might notice a body sensation. Too hot. Tingly. Antsy.
  3. Name what’s happening. Say to yourself, “I’m feeling annoyed. My body feels hot. This is my perfectionist kicking in.”
  4. Ask the Perfectionist what it’s scared would happen if it stopped trying so hard. Maybe it’s scared you wouldn’t have a fantastic project to show family and so they wouldn’t know how much they mean to you. Or, perhaps it’s scared of letting yourself down. Be gentle with yourself over these realizations.
  5. Thank your perfectionist part. Thank the perfectionist for having your back. For trying to create closeness with your family even if it is going about it in a way that’s create problems.
  6. Notice how your body sensations and emotions have shifted. You may be feeling warm but not too hot anymore. You might be feeling grateful instead of resentful. The next time your perfectionist part rears its head you might feel some warmth towards it and understand more clearly what its hoping to achieve.

Using this steps- during holiday season or any time of the year- can help you get a little more flexibility with the perfectionist in you.

If you’re curious about the perfectionist or other parts of you consider working with a therapist trained in Richard Schwartz’ Internal Family Systems Therapy, which is what some of these tips are based on.

Happy Holidays!



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