Meditation tips for perfectionists
#1. Approach meditation in a structured way
Many forms of meditation are about surrendering, also described as ‘the art of letting go’. This may be part of the reason why meditating can feel so difficult; perfectionism is often caused by a need for control, so surrendering goes against your very nature. To help yourself get past the first hurdles, I’d recommend to approach your first sessions in a very structured way. You can listen to a guided meditation recording, for example. You may not be able to control what happens during meditation (that’s not the point!), but the idea that you do control the way you approach it, will comfort you.
#2. Recognize your thoughts as what they are
Perfectionists often have a tendency to fix the things that they consider imperfect – or to rate, judge or correct them. So when you’re meditating and a certain thought arises, it’s natural to want to ‘do something’ with that thought. This is when you want to take a step back and let go of your compulsion to respond. You have become aware of that thought. Now you just need to recognize that thought as what it is: a thought. And simply accept that it is there. Nothing more.
#3. Be kind to yourself
As a perfectionist, you are most likely very hard on yourself. You have high standards and are unwilling to drop the ball, let alone accept that you may fail every now and then. This attitude may benefit you in various aspects of life, but you really don’t need to bring it into a meditation. In fact, I’d encourage you to mentally wrap up all your self-discipline, dedication and ambition into a ball, stuck any negative self-talk in there, and leave that ball outside of the room. For as long as you are in a meditative mindset, don’t be hard on yourself. Be kind. Self-compassion is soft. You are enough.
Meditation is not always organized, structured, neat and pretty. Honestly, it can get pretty messy. If you hear that familiar voice in your head that starts to criticize whatever you’re doing, stay calm and accept that it is there. Practising meditation can be quite a challenge for a perfectionist; it can feel like it’s outside your comfort zone. All the more reason to embrace it, don’t you think?