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Helping Perfectionists be Kind to Themselves

Perfectionist working hard.
Perfectionist working hard.

Perfectionists, known for their relentless pursuit of flawlessness, often struggle with being too hard on themselves. As a mentor or coach, it can be challenging to support these individuals and help them navigate their weaknesses. However, by focusing on affirmation, validation, encouragement, and support, you can create an environment that empowers perfectionists to be kinder to themselves. This article will explore practical strategies to help perfectionists embrace growth, develop a sense of curiosity, and cultivate a healthier mindset.

1. Shift the Focus from Performance to the Person:

Achievements and outcomes drive perfectionists, who often tie their self-worth to their performance. As a mentor, it is crucial to shift the focus away from performance and emphasize the person's value. Acknowledge their unique strengths, talents, and qualities, reminding them that their accomplishments do not solely determine their worth. By affirming their inherent value, you can help perfectionists develop a more balanced perspective of themselves.

2. Cultivate Curiosity and Inquiry:

When perfectionists fall short of their high expectations or believe they have failed, it can harm their self-esteem. Instead of allowing them to spiral into self-criticism, encourage them to shift their mindset towards curiosity and inquiry. Help them explore what went wrong, asking open-ended questions that foster reflection and learning. By approaching setbacks with curiosity, perfectionists can transform failures into valuable learning experiences that fuel personal growth.

3. Permit Mistakes and Share Your Own:

Perfectionists often fear making mistakes due to a deep-rooted desire for flawlessness. As a mentor, creating a safe space that permits and embraces mistakes is essential. Share your missteps and the lessons you learned from them. Demonstrating vulnerability and showcasing personal growth provides a powerful example that making errors is a natural part of learning. Assure them that mistakes do not define their worth and that resilience is key to their journey.

4. Embrace the Power of "I Don't Know":

Perfectionists tend to feel compelled to have all the answers and fear appearing uncertain or uninformed. Break this pattern by embracing the phrase, "I don't know that, but let's find out together." Encourage perfectionists to view their lack of knowledge as an opportunity for growth and discovery. By modeling curiosity and a willingness to learn, you inspire them to embrace a growth mindset and let go of the need for immediate perfection.


As a mentor, you have the power to support and guide perfectionists on their journey towards self-compassion and personal growth. By shifting the focus from performance to the person, cultivating curiosity and inquiry, permitting mistakes, and embracing the power of not knowing, you can help perfectionists be kinder to themselves. Remember, it's a gradual process, but with patience, empathy, and consistent support, you can empower perfectionists to embrace their imperfections and unlock their true potential. Let us strive to create workplaces that foster self-acceptance, growth, and well-being for all.


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