06/06/2014 08:16 BST | Updated 06/08/2014 06:59 BST

How to Beat Perfectionism... and be the Best!

Perfectionism is a blight, a curse, a never-ending pressure that can suck the joy out of everyday life.

For some perfectionism is an internal wasteland where all positives are ignored and life is like wading through treacle. For others perfectionism makes the outside world never enough and disappointment poisons most activities and relationships. Perfectionists walk a tightrope where impending disaster is held at bay with extreme effort.

So what's to do?


Sometimes a book can help.

In Michael Cohen's book The Power Of Accepting Yourself we are given some of the key tools to challenge out perfectionist ambitions so that we can start to enjoy and appreciate what we have and who we are. Michael clearly points the finger at what produces the misery of perfectionism and how to wriggle out of its paralysing effects.

The main culprit, Michael explains, is our demandingness, our irrational desire for things to absolutely be how we demand them to be. This is compounded by the idea that any deviation from this self-imposed vision of how things should be, will be a total disaster filled with unimaginable distress.

The challenge is thus two-fold. Firstly accept the random and uncontrollable nature of life, ease up on all your 'shoulds' and 'musts' and 'got tos' and 'have tos'. Secondly accept that the catastrophe you imagine is something that you can deal with, messy and unpleasant, but essentially survivable. Easier said than done? Maybe, but for some readers this rational approach could break a destructive mindset that has been holding sway for years. Michael also suggest the use of self hypnosis as a way of embedding these new ideas.

Having a plan of how we want life to be is not a bad thing, however the perfectionist demands it and lives in fear (and loathing) of any deviation from that plan. So self-acceptance is not the same as not caring or bothering. It does not mean give up. It simply points to the source of our misery, the inflexible self written script of our lives.

Michael Cohen uses CBT psychology to tackle perfectionism and also recommends self-hypnosis. Like many modern hypnotherapists, the value of the creative imagination is coupled successfully with the no nonsense approach of the work of Albert Ellis- pioneer of CBT. This combination creates the modern day so called Cognitive Hypnotherapist, a synthesis of solid CBT thinking plus the use of the creative imagination and relaxation.

The concept of self acceptance is certainly not a new one but this book succinctly charts the path that could lead some to being much more relaxed about themselves. In fact you could use this book to be the best ex-perfectionist in the world...ever!