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Table 5 Descriptions of effective interventions for perfectionism identified across the 266 websites

From: A realist synthesis of websites containing content on perfectionism: Are the descriptions and advice empirically supported?

Theme N (%) Examples
Pros and cons of perfectionism and change (why is perfectionism maintained) 78 (29) Identify the hidden payoff in perfectionism, get radically honest about the costs; Evaluate the costs and benefits of spending a large amount of time making sure things are just so
Differentiating perfectionism from striving for high standards 54 (20) Striving to do your best and always push the envelope is great. It’s the force that motivates you to keep going and improve your craft. But when it turns into perfectionism, it becomes a blocker
Psychoeducation about perfectionism 45 (17)  
Expanding self-evaluation 66 (25) Value Yourself: You’re more than a percentage, you’re far from a pile of imperfections and there is no such thing as ‘perfect’. We’re all different for a reason, each with our own unique gifts to offer. Show the world your talents, explore your passions and let the inner you shine
Moving from self-criticism to self-compassion 97 (37) Forgive yourself for your shortcomings. Nobody is perfect, and everybody has strengths and weaknesses; If you’d be happy with your performance if it had come from someone else, then give yourself the recognition you deserve
Self-monitoring 56 (21) Changing a habit takes practice. The first step is mindfulness — that is, becoming aware of a painful habit, such as always comparing yourself to others; Awareness is always the first step … get to know the negative inner voice: What does it say, when does it show up? Does it remind us of someone familiar? Is there any bodily sensation that goes with it?
Thinking errors 63 (24) All-or-Nothing/Black and white thinking
Identifying hot cognitions and identifying alternatives 98 (37) Identify and rationally challenge our [perfectionist] thoughts in order to see why we’re getting so bothered: 'Is my way the only way to view this situation? Would another person necessarily see this situation the same way as I do?' … “notice your perfectionist thoughts, generate alternative thoughts, choose a more realistic way to look at the situation
Behavioural experiments 65 (24) Hypothesis testing of the accuracy of your perfectionistic thoughts and predictions. Try pressing “send” on that email without proofreading it. Try showing up five minutes late for that meeting. Try buying pants online without reviewing every option available … “Regardless of the outcome, you will obtain valuable information. If there is no consequence, you will learn that your beliefs about the importance of including all of the details are not true” … “next time you are asked a question and don’t know the answer, just say, “I don’t know.” Then keep track of how many friends you lose. See how much less loved you are. Note particularly how much less respect you get
Procrastination and time management 81 (31) Create “good enough” deadlines for yourself … don’t allow yourself to check something “one last time.” Set deadlines that let you move on so you don’t get stuck trying to perfect one project at the expense of another … determine how long a project will take to complete. Aim for efficiency and to finish in 5% less time than you initially allocated for the task, and don’t let yourself go over by more than 10% … limit the [distractions] you have control over (like taking a quick break to scroll through your Instagram feed)
Get practical support 86 (32) Therapist, connect with others, create “safe environment to explore new things and move forward”, get others involved when too stuck on the project to see clearly
Adjusting goals and expectations 87 (33) Consider loosening those standards” … Re-set your standards in steps, eg. Gradually take less and less time to prepare for presentation, or being ok with fewer and fewer people praising your performance; Encouraging flexibility: “Teach your students that if plan A doesn’t work there are 25 more letters
Mistakes: normalising and seeing the benefit 92 (35) knowing that we make mistakes as humans, but we live and learn; create a classroom culture where it is ok to fail. Our students need to be reassured that failure is the key to success; trial and error are essential for learning and achievement
Prioritising process over outcome 47 (18) Celebrate the journey, not the outcome. Even if you don’t manage to hit a target or achieve something you wanted to, focus on the effort you put into it and what you learnt along the way; Evaluate your success not only in terms of what you accomplished but also in terms of how much you enjoyed the task. Recognize that there can be value in the process of pursuing a goal
Mindfulness and gratitude 43 (16) Practice mindfulness: Increase your self-awareness through mindfulness exercises. Mindfulness can allow you to come to terms with your thoughts about perfectionism, making you more aware of your perfectionistic tendencies and allowing you to face these thoughts without reacting to them. Through the practice of mindfulness, you can learn to let go and release the stress associated with perfectionism