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Author: Linda-Ann Stewart

As a focus coach, hypnotherapist, and speaker, Linda-Ann Stewart motivates women entrepreneurs and small business owners to focus and transform their business through deliberate actions that break through distraction and overwhelm to greater success, wellbeing and prosperity.To achieve your goals with confidence and ease in 4 powerful steps, register for her FREE training video and accompanying action planning guide at You can contact her at or 928-600-0452.
Practicing Goodwill to Yourself

Practicing Goodwill to Yourself

by Linda-Ann Stewart

Heart shaped Christmas wreath

This is the season for “Peace on Earth, goodwill to all.” But how is your goodwill towards yourself? In other words, how are you treating yourself? Are you doing things that nurture and nourish your inner being or are you putting yourself last on your list? The way you take care of yourself impacts your relations with everything in your world. When you don’t give your inner self importance, Life treats you much in the same way.

The Bible says to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” This has been interpreted to mean that we’re to put others first. But read of the whole quote, “Love thy neighbor AS thyself,” not more than yourself. If you don’t love yourself, you can’t love your neighbor. Love of self and goodwill extends outward like the ripples in a pond. When you tend to yourself, you can tend to others because you have more love to spread.

There’s an old saying, “Charity begins at home.” This is because if you give all of yourself away, there’s nothing left for you, therefore there’s nothing left of you to give. If you don’t nurture yourself in a healthy way, your inner self will insist on it. For instance, if you work too hard, you might get sick to get some time off.

How can you nurture yourself? I’m not talking about eating a pound of fudge, but doing something that makes your inner being feel nourished. Getting enough sleep and eating healthy meals would be a good start. Other things to do could be to take a walk, get out into nature, meditate, do yoga, take a bubble bath, rent a video, or something else that makes you feel special. For you are special to the Universe. The Infinite wants you to show goodwill to yourself, so that your peace will spread to the world.

As a focus mentor, hypnotherapist, and writer, Linda-Ann Stewart motivates women entrepreneurs and small business owners to focus and transform their business through deliberate actions that break through distraction and overwhelm to greater success, wellbeing and prosperity.To boost productivity and reduce overwhelm, register for her FREE guide, Design Your Best Day, at You can contact her at or 928-600-0452.

Optimism: The Key Ingredient for Success

Optimism: The Key Ingredient for Success

by Linda-Ann Stewart

Your attitude determines your direction

When I first began my hypnotherapy practice, I was in a depressed emotional state. After I opened, some people said that hypnosis wasn’t in demand in our area. That belief lodged in my already disheartened mind. Although I advertised, spoke at clubs, networked, and gave seminars, my attitude was such that my efforts did very little. Not surprisingly, I had a hard time paying my bills. The Universe and my creative mind were just supporting my negative conclusion that there were few clients available.

One day, I decided to change my mindset about the number of people who wanted to use my services, and just see what happened. I began to market myself by giving talks about hypnosis, and promoting these talks with fliers and through press releases. This time, I held the attitude that I would reach the people who were interested. Almost immediately, my practice began to grow.

The Role Optimism Plays in Success

How many people do you know who begin a project, a hobby, or a new business with stars in their eyes? They have the ability, the desire to make it a success, but after the first couple of bumps or setbacks, they give up and quit. These folks lack one ingredient they need to be successful – optimism. This concept gives them the attitude that with a bit more work and perseverance, things will get better.

A person can have incredible gifts, but if they don’t do anything with them, because they don’t believe in themselves, they won’t achieve anything. That same person can have all the motivation and desire to get ahead, but if they lose heart and get discouraged when things don’t go their way, they will begin to give up and stop doing what’s necessary to create a success. In Learned Optimism, by Martin Seligman, it states that talent plus desire, but without optimism, will result in failure. Therefore, optimism and belief in oneself is absolutely paramount to succeeding in any venture.

Your Attitude Helps or Hinders You

When a person has a belief that things won’t work out, the Universe fulfills that concept. When an obstacle comes up, we need to seek out new avenues of expression rather than just giving up, or just going through the motions. It’s been said that, “God can’t steer a parked vehicle.” As long as we’re moving in a direction, we can be guided, if we believe we will be. If we figure, “What’s the use?” then the Universe has no opening to help us. We’ve blocked It out. We then sink into a swamp of despair of our own making.

If I hadn’t changed my attitude from being pessimistic to optimistic, my practice would never have thrived. I altered the way that I perceived the public and my marketing methods. In so doing, my more positive attitude unconsciously communicated with people. Telemarketers are instructed to smile as they call, because the person they talk with can hear it in their voice. Having an optimistic attitude, in addition to ability and motivation, is essential to success in any area of life. The Universe flows into the positive attitude to create new possibilities, making it a self-fulfilling prophecy.


I have the talent, ability, desire and motivation to achieve my goals. Negative beliefs that I won’t be able to reach my goal can be self-fulfilling. I examine those concepts to identify what may be holding me back, and change them to more positive ideas. As I move in the direction of my desire, I remember that the Universe is guiding me. I open myself up for that guidance, recognizing it when it comes, and following it. I now have all the attributes I need to be a success.

As a focus mentor, hypnotherapist, and writer, Linda-Ann Stewart motivates women entrepreneurs and small business owners to focus and transform their business through deliberate actions that break through distraction and overwhelm to greater success, wellbeing and prosperity.To boost productivity and reduce overwhelm, register for her FREE guide, Design Your Best Day, at You can contact her at or 928-600-0452.

Tip the Scales Towards the Positive

Tip the Scales Towards the Positive

When there’s a tragedy, you may resist feeling good because you think it’s inappropriate. But this is the most important time for you to focus on the good in your life. Doing so builds resiliency to handle difficult times. Learn a powerful technique that allows you to create more strength and empowerment for good times and bad. Watch Tip the Scales Towards the Positive.


Sometimes, when bad things have happened, such as a tragedy in the world or in your personal life, you might feel guilty for feeling upbeat. You might think it’s selfish, inappropriate or that you don’t deserve to.

This is common and natural, but doesn’t help you or anyone else. It just perpetuates the negativity, undermining your strength and reducing your ability to handle the situation. This is really the most important time for you to focus on what is good in your life.

When you pay attention to the good things in your life, you tip the scales toward feeling better. This results in more happiness and well being for you, more kindness and compassion towards others. You’ll have more resources to draw from to deal with the tragedy and when other upsetting experiences do occur.

I’m Linda-Ann Stewart and I empower people to focus and align their heart with their vision so they can achieve their goals. I’d like to share with you how you can give yourself a well of resilience to draw from in good times and bad. This is a technique I use in my life and it’s served me well.

Neuroscience tells us that “neurons that fire together, wire together.” That means that the more you focus on the positive, the more neurons you build in the areas of encouragement, empowerment, and inspiration.

To stimulate your neurons to create more positive emotions, when you find  something pleasant in your life, let it fill you up. Instead of just thinking of it  for a few seconds, which, don’t get me wrong, is good, spend 20-30 seconds focusing on it.

Feel it, savor it. Let it pour through you like a warm glow, or golden liquid. I will often stop with the intention to take time to relish a scene or experience  to allow the joy and serenity of it to imprint on my memory.

The longer you dwell on the pleasant  experience and allow it to stimulate gratifying emotions, the stronger and more powerful the your positive neurons become.

I suggest practicing this several times a day. The more often you do this, the more you build a net of positive neurons that can support and nourish you in tough times.

Thank you for watching. If you enjoyed this video, please like my YouTube channel and click the bell to be notified of future videos about mindset, motivation and empowerment. Until next time, stay focused.

Read the accompanying article, Find the Good in Your Life.

Reprogram Your Negative Self-Chatter

Reprogram Your Negative Self-Chatter

by Linda-Ann Stewart

Thoughts in a head

Have you ever monitored what you say to yourself? Listened to the self-talk that chatters away without your being aware of it? Automatic phrases, such as “I can’t do this,” “I’m not worthy,” “I can’t handle this,” “I can’t afford it” and others. You may even find yourself saying them to the people in your life. These are beliefs that have been programmed into you, just like into a computer. Suppose the boss asks you to come into his office. Your first reaction may be “Uh, Oh. I’m in trouble,” even though he may want to praise you.

These ideas come from your past, but  they create a self-fulfilling feedback loop in your subconscious. Without your being aware of it, they provide background noise in your life. Is it any wonder that it’s hard to make any changes? They echo the words of parents, siblings, friends, teachers, anybody whose opinion you ever accepted, whether it was true or not. You were hypnotized into believing them, and you’ve stayed true to the conditioning.

How to Reprogram Negative Thoughts

An affirmation is a statement that confirms what you hold to be true, and though we generally use the term for positive declarations, these statements can be either positive or negative. When you tell yourself over and over that you’re not worthy , it convinces your subconscious that this is what you want, and your subconscious creates this reality.

The first step is to become aware of what you’re telling yourself. Write down these statements. Then formulate a sentence that counters what you’ve been believing all these years. Use it repetitively, because that’s how you were programmed in the first place. By hearing the same or similar things over and over.

Remain conscious of the background noise of your thoughts. And when the negative statement rises up, use your new phrase. Be patient. That original idea has been there a long time. It’ll take time, consistence, and persistence, but eventually you’ll change the thought to one that more truly reflects the Universe’s loving opinion of you.


I monitor my self-talk and now become aware of what I’m telling myself. I realize that these negative ideas came from the past and have no relation to my present life. I recognize my own worth and the authority of my positive declarations. I am patient, consistent and persistent in reprogramming my mind, for I know that the changes are happening with every constructive affirmation that I state.

As a focus mentor, hypnotherapist, and writer, Linda-Ann Stewart motivates women to focus and transform their business through deliberate actions that break through distraction and overwhelm to greater success, freedom, wellbeing and prosperity. Register for her FREE Design Your Best Day guide and guided meditation video at You can contact her at or 928-600-0452.

Defuse the Power of Negative Thinking

Defuse the Power of Negative Thinking

by Linda-Ann Stewart

"We are what we think about all day long." Ralph Waldo Emerson

“We are what we think about all day long.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

What do you tend to think about all day? Is your awareness focused on beneficial, enriching thoughts or are you mainly thinking discouraging, undermining ideas and telling yourself that “I can’t?” The subconscious follows the tendency of your thoughts, and manifests the average of what you ponder during the day. If the overall quality of your thoughts is positive and uplifting, then the subconscious moves in that direction, and the converse is true.

It’s not easy to think positively every moment of every day. I’m not even sure it’s possible. But the subconscious doesn’t need you to be continuously constructive. It just needs you to be more positive than negative for it to create more harmony. But many people fear their negative thoughts, and that very fear gives those thoughts more energy.

Thought Is Creative

Each thought is potentially creative and is formed of energy. When a person recognizes they’ve considered a negative idea, many times they feel guilty for doing so, and become afraid that it will overcome any positive thoughts. Instead of simply switching their attention to something more beneficial, they continue to spiral downwards, and the negative thought takes on a life of its own. 

For instance, consider a baseball player who has missed every pitch in a game. Instead of figuring he just had a bad game, or the pitcher was especially good, he might begin to doubt his abilities. During practice, and the next game, he’ll tense up and worry too much about hitting the ball. He may recognize the tendency of his thinking, and try to overcome it. But now he’s fighting on two fronts. He’s concerned about not hitting the ball and fearful that his thinking is going to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once he begins to worry, and not trust his abilities, problems arise.

Your Subconscious Programs

Many times, the limiting, negative thoughts are simply a part of the subconscious trying to protect you and keep you safe. You might hear that little voice in your head saying:

  • If you don’t try, then you won’t fail, right?
  • By expecting the worst, you won’t be disappointed when it happens.
  • If you don’t succeed, then people won’t expect more of you.

This little voice is part of the subconscious mind using fear, doubt, and worry as a way to keep you from growing and moving forward. As long as you’re in familiar territory, then it figures nothing bad will happen.

It’s simply doing its job, repeating what it’s been programmed to do. So instead of vilifying it, resisting the negative thoughts and fearing their power, change your way of responding to them. When you become aware of a negative idea, simply say, “Thank you.” This immediately defuses the power you attach to the negative thought. You’re acknowledging its attempt to help, instead of rebelling against it. State, “Thank you, but that’s no longer helpful,” and respond with a beneficial concept.

How to Deal with Negative Thoughts

A long time ago, I learned a powerful way of dealing with negative thoughts. Divide a paper in half, write your affirmative goal on the left side, and record any objection that comes to mind on the right side, and then reply with “Thank you.” By writing down its concerns, and then acknowledging it with a “Thank you,” you’re letting the subconscious mind know that you recognize its distress. On the next line, write your goal again, and then any negative response, and “Thank you.” Continue until you don’t notice any negative thoughts about it coming into your mind.

Eventually, it will cease to bother you with protests, because you’ve let it know you’ve heard it, but are still going to move in that new direction. You’ve taken back your power. It will respect that, because that’s its true goal. As long as you accept your own authority in directing your life, the critical voice will quiet down. And you can now put your attention on what it is you want in your life, without wasting your energy resisting your negative thoughts.


Negative thoughts are simply outdated ideas that I accepted sometime in the past. They are no longer valid or necessary to help me. Whenever I recognize myself dwelling on a negative concept, I remember that it’s simply my subconscious mind concerned about me. I respond with “Thank you, but it’s safe for me to experience progress.” I accept that I am the authority in my life and now take back my power.

As a focus mentor, hypnotherapist, and writer, Linda-Ann Stewart motivates women entrepreneurs and small business owners to focus and transform their business through deliberate actions that break through distraction and overwhelm to greater success, wellbeing and prosperity.To achieve your goals with confidence and ease in 4 powerful steps, register for her FREE training video and accompanying action planning guide at You can contact her at or 928-600-0452.

Train Yourself to Be Positive

Train Yourself to Be Positive

It’s normal to pay more attention to negative situations than positive. But if you view everything in your life through this filter, you could become anxious and depressed. Fortunately, you can counterbalance this attitude so you’re more positive, happier with greater well being. Learn 2 tried and true methods to train yourself to be more positive and better deal with distressing situations that occur.


Did you know humans have a natural tendency to pay more attention to negative situations than positive? It’s called the Negativity Bias. It’s purpose is to help you survive and keep you safe. But if you view everything in your life through this filter, it no longer is being helpful.

Fortunately, you can counterbalance this ancient attitude so you’re not as affected by it. When you do, you’ll be happier, have greater well being and be more resourceful in dealing with the upsetting situations in your life.

I’m Linda-Ann Stewart and I empower people to focus and align their heart with their vision so they can achieve their goals.

I’d like to share two ways to change from being distressed to having a more positive frame of mind. By practicing these tactics each day, you’ll begin to inoculate your mind against dwelling on the negative.

The first tactic is to shift your attention from a negative mindset to something more uplifting. Write down positive things that have happened to you during the day. It could be as simple as traffic being lighter than expected, finding a close parking space, or a phone call going well.

Think of the small things that went right, such as your victories and what you accomplished. Do this every day and soon it will become a habit to notice them as your day progresses. This trains your brain to seek out the positive.

A second tactic is slightly different from the first, though they could be combined. Write down five things you’re grateful for every day. This is a tried and true method to begin to train yourself to be more optimistic overall. Studies have shown multiple benefits from consistently keeping a gratitude journal.

The  items you’re grateful for could be more general than the specific things that went right in your day. For instance, it could be that you’re grateful for your health, how the day was productive, or for the friends in your life. But, like I said, gratitudes could combine with thinking about what went right in your day and then being thankful for each one.

Either, or both of these tactics together, will improve your life in multiple ways. They will help from seeking out the positive becoming automatic, to being less affected when negative things do occur, to just being more productive. You’ll notice that you feel better about yourself and have a better outlook on life.

Thank you for watching. If you enjoyed this video, please like my YouTube channel and click the bell to be notified of future videos. Stay focused.

Read the accompanying article, Find the Good in Your Life.

Find the Good in Your Life

Find the Good in Your Life

Linda-Ann Stewart

Have you ever had someone rudely jump ahead of you in line at the grocery store, and it soured your mood for hours? Or had someone make a spiteful remark, and it ruined your day? Even if the rest of the day was pleasant, you likely dwelled on the annoying encounter and were sensitized to notice more irritations afterwards. This is a natural occurrence.

People are primed to notice more negative things than positive. Your brain was designed to help you survive, and does so by detecting threats to your life. If your ancestors hadn’t registered that the tiger was about to pounce on them, they wouldn’t have survived to pass their genes onto you.

Nowadays, there aren’t as many physical dangers, but the mind doesn’t distinguish between what might kill you and what disturbs you emotionally or mentally. The brain perceives them all as potential threats and spotlights what’s upsetting to you so it can try to help you survive.

The Negativity Effect

Scientists call this the Negativity Bias or Effect. Humans are more inclined to recognize and remember the negative, and brush off the positive. It’s the brain and subconscious mind’s effort to keep you safe.

It’s not an issue if it only happens once in a while, such as from an unpleasant encounter. But if you get stuck in viewing the world through this dark lens, it adversely impacts how you think and react in other areas. You only perceive what’s wrong, and can become cynical, irritable and depressed.  

You need to be careful as this primal characteristic can overwhelm your life. If you’re always braced for something to go wrong, you’re predisposed to overreact to minor upsets or annoyances, and you notice them more. At the same time, you don’t recognize the good in your life.

You’re always in a fight or flight mode, stressed, anxious and exhausted. If this is the case, you don’t have enough resources to think clearly or be creative. You automatically react like you did in the past, without considering other alternatives.

Why It’s Important to Overcome This Tendency

The more you focus on what bothers you, the more incidents you notice, and this mindset becomes a habit. This ingrained attitude can lead you to expect the worst in people and situations, and can adversely affect your relationships. Your actions follow your beliefs and attention, so you could unwittingly create the very conditions that would confirm your pessimistic expectations.

Fortunately, you’re not a captive to this ancient bias. You can counteract your brain’s predisposition to lean to the negative by training yourself to pay attention to what’s good in your life. This will balance out that primeval tendency to always be on alert for threats. You have the power to decide how much of an impact unpleasant situations will have on you.

Instead of getting sucked into a negative frame of mind, you can train yourself to notice what’s good in your life. It takes time and practice, but when you persist in developing this skill, annoyances will bother you less overall. You may be aware of the irritations, but they won’t trigger you to fall into a well of cynicism.

What You Focus on Grows

As you begin to pay attention to what’s going well in your life, you’ll discover there’s more that’s good than you originally thought. What you focus on grows in your awareness and your subconscious mind will begin to scan your environment for other positive aspects.

Scientists say that “neurons that fire together, wire together.” If you dwell on the negative, you grow more brain cells that create discouragement, depression and helplessness. This is how pessimists are created. However, when you focus on the positive, brain cells grow in the areas for happiness, wellbeing and resourcefulness. Doing this develops optimists.

The One to Five Ratio

Scientists say that, in a relationship, it takes between four and five positive interactions to overcome a single negative one. If you’ve had an unpleasant disagreement with a friend, you’ll need several amicable exchanges with them to feel comfortable with them again. I think the same might be true of events. When you’ve experienced a distressing situation and it has soured your mood, it may take four to five pleasant incidents to improve your outlook.

You can be more proactive to start to feel better. Shortly after you’re upset, irritated or annoyed, find five things you’re grateful for in your life. Or seek out five items that make you happy in the moment. They can be small pleasures, like a flower, clouds floating in a blue sky or a child’s laugh. This will balance out the negativity, and help you shake off the unpleasantness you encountered.

Creating a New Brain Pattern.

You don’t have to let upsets or irritations control your overall mood or mindset. As you deliberately seek out more of the positive, you establish a new pattern in your brain. You create more positive leaning brain cells. By training yourself to pay attention to what’s positive, negative situations will bother you less. You won’t waste mental energy on minor negative incidents. They’ll reduce in importance, and you’ll increase your ability to handle them.

Not only that, you’ll be able to recognize more possibilities that you would have ignored before. Because you’re more open to them, your subconscious will search your environment for opportunities that benefit you. To uplift your entire life and overcome your ancient bias to be negative, spend time to enjoy pleasant moments and rewire your brain to be happy.


I have the power and ability to choose where to put my attention. When I focus on more positive thoughts, I know that it impacts my life in a beneficial way. I become aware of when I start to slide into negativity, and decide to notice what’s good in my life. As I seek out the positive, I establish a new pattern within my mind that leans to optimism. This opens my mind to greater wellbeing and happiness.

Watch the accompanying video, Train Yourself to Be Positive.

As a focus mentor, hypnotherapist, and writer, Linda-Ann Stewart motivates women entrepreneurs and small business owners to focus and transform their business through deliberate actions that break through distraction and overwhelm to greater success, wellbeing and prosperity. Register for her FREE guide to Design Your Best Day at You can also contact her at or 928-600-0452.

What Are You Training For?

What Are You Training For?

by Linda-Ann Stewart

woman with balloon

There’s an old saying that “You get out of a project what you put into it.” This means that however much energy you put into an activity, project or talent, you reap the benefits in equal measure. Athletes wouldn’t dream of attempting to “go for the gold” without training mentally and physically. An artist knows that their talent grows the more they exercise it. They recognize there will be hurdles to overcome, but those obstacles simply make their abilities stronger. 

The same is true of every aspect of life. If you focus your energy in the direction of prosperity, you’ll reap abundance. However, if you expend your thoughts in the area of fear of not being able to pay the bills, that’s what you’ll manifest. It’s like a bank account. Think of what thoughts you’re depositing in your mind. Whether those thoughts are positive or negative, you’ll earn interest based on the contents of you “account.”

It takes concentrated practice to be aware of what thoughts you’re thinking. And it takes even more attention and discipline to transform those ideas into ones that are positive and beneficial. Are you putting in ten thoughts of fear for every single thought of faith and confidence? If so, you’ll draw out whatever it is that you fear. When you practice focusing on the good each day, you’re exercising your confidence in the Universe. If you come up against an obstacle, you’ll have the strength to handle it. 

Whatever kind of energy you’re putting out, you’ll be experiencing that in your life. Are you depositing thoughts of an expanded, more abundant life? If not, begin to become aware of what kind of thoughts you’re depositing in your emotional bank, and start to train for a better life.


I become aware of the thoughts that I think that might not be in harmony with the Universe. I train myself to transform them into the kind of idea deposits that I desire. I know that my thoughts manifest their equivalent in my life. I keep my thoughts positive and focused on the Universal Good. Even though I might not see the good in any situation, it is there awaiting my recognition of it. The more I practice this, the stronger and more empowered I become.

Avoid the Paralysis of Perfection

Avoid the Paralysis of Perfection

Do you try to get everything done perfectly? That can lead to procrastination and undermine the outcome you’re seeking. Instead of trying to be perfect, use this mindset tip to complete your project and move to your next accomplishment. Watch Avoid the Paralysis of Perfection.


Welcome. I’m Linda-Ann Stewart and I empower people to focus and achieve their goals and vision. Today, I’d like to talk about perfectionism and how it holds you back.

I once knew an artist who was a perfectionist about her paintings. She worked on one for years. It was of dried leaves and a tree stump. You wouldn’t think that subject would be interesting, but her depiction of it  was beautiful.

For one thing, the leaves that she’d completed were amazing. You’d have sworn they were real. But she spent so much time on each leaf, meticulously trying to get it perfect, that she never finished the painting. Eventually, she moved on to work on other pieces.

Although that painting wouldn’t have been as detailed, it would have been better for her to have completed it without agonizing over every vein in every leaf. No one would have noticed them missing, and the picture still would have been phenomenal. Unfortunately, that partially completed masterpiece sat in the closet and few people ever had the joy of seeing it.

Do you avoid finishing a project, because you don’t think it’s perfect enough? Perfectionism can lead to procrastination, which can create paralysis. You dread dealing with the project, and that resistance takes energy away from it and other things. The dread hangs over your head, taking up valuable mental real estate.

My coaching tip is a mindset shift. There are motivational statements like, “Done is better than perfect,” and “Progress, not perfection.” They may be trite, but they’re true, and important to remember if you get bogged down in trying to be perfect. No one but you is going to know your project is not up to your standard of perfection. It will be perfectly acceptable to them and appreciated. 

Like my friend’s painting, it really is better to just complete what you’re working on. You’ll get so much more done. Even if the result isn’t as great as you’d like, you can then move on to your next accomplishment. Thank you for watching. If you liked this video, please like my channel so you’re notified when I post future ones. Stay focused.

Read the accompanying article, Seek Persistence, Not Perfection.

The Perfectionist’s Curse

The Perfectionist’s Curse

by Linda-Ann Stewart

"I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God's business."
Michael J. Fox

“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.” Michael J. Fox

Do you ever avoid going out of the house with a hair out of place or in wrinkled clothes? Are you afraid to turn in a project, because of you feel it’s not good enough? I knew an artist  who started an oil painting of dried leaves and a decomposing stump. She spent days painting every leaf in great detail, so detailed that a person looking at it thought they were real. But she spent so much time on the details that she eventually moved on to another project and never finished the painting.

I’ve never met a happy perfectionist. Most of them are anxious, unhappy people, who have low self-esteem, and are trying to meet some impossible, ideal standard. Generally, the syndrome comes from a childhood with parents, caregivers or teachers who never approved of anything these folk did.

Wanting Acknowledgement

In elementary school, when I would make a perfect grade on a test, my father would ask “Why didn’t you make a 200%?” In fifth grade, we had a pop quiz, on which I made a 100%, and then the teacher had us take a similar one, on which I also made a perfect grade. When my father came home, I was waiting for him.

“I made a 100% today,” I said.

“Why didn’t you make a 200%?” he asked, as usual.

I laughed and said, “I did,” and showed him the papers. He never asked me that particular question again.

Fortunately for me, my father did give me approval and acceptance. But for many people who are perfectionists, they’ve never received that from their parents. As children, they tried to do everything right to gain some acknowledgement and never did. What they didn’t realize was that it wouldn’t have mattered how perfect they were, their parents couldn’t approve of their achievements because of the parents’ emotional baggage. When the child grew up into adulthood, they continued the attempt to be perfect to avoid rejection. It didn’t work in childhood, even though to the childish mind it appeared to give them some control over the situation. As an adult, it only causes misery.

The Basis of Perfectionism

There is a difference between being a perfectionist and being precise. A perfectionist isn’t motivated by trying to be accurate or to do their best. They’re actually living out of fear, trying to avoid making a mistake so that they aren’t rejected or criticized. Being precise is important in many careers, and in many aspects of our lives. Accuracy is valuable in mixing chemicals, recipes, statistics, etc., because an error in any of these could cost dearly. But the difference between being a perfectionist and being precise is that the former takes over a person’s whole being, while the latter is specific as to time and place.

Perfectionism can keep a person immobilized. An individual can be so afraid of making a move that they won’t do anything, for fear that their decision could be the wrong one. A project may be finished, but they revise it over and over, trying to get it just right. The point they miss is that there are any number of right ways to complete the project. And continuing to work on it may mean they turn it in late.

Perfection and Procrastination

Another side effect of perfectionism can be procrastination. As in the example just given, if a person keeps re-working a project until it’s late, they may not be faulted for it “not being their best work.” In other cases, an individual may postpone making decisions or taking  action so they won’t be condemned. Then they’re criticized for never doing anything.

All of this comes from trying to live up to some artificial, unrealistic standard that was imposed on them in childhood. And instead of a positive principle they aspire to, they actually live in fear of not measuring up to it. So much energy is wasted in fear that they can never actually live up to their potential. And very likely, due to the fear of condemnation, a person won’t risk suggesting new ideas or new methods in their careers or personal life, preferring to stick with what has been accepted in the past.

Update Your Beliefs

If you’re a perfectionist, realize that it’s a response to an environment that no longer exists. With your current knowledge, review the dynamics of your childhood relationships with your caregivers. Would you ever have gotten their approval, or were they imposing unrealistic expectations on you? For instance, expecting a four-year-old to act like an adult is irrational.

Experiment with not doing things perfectly; like leaving dishes in the sink for a few hours, don’t straighten pictures, and go for a walk without dressing specifically for it. Whenever you feel anxious that you may not be doing something perfectly, remind yourself that nothing is ever perfect. Do your best, be accurate, be precise, but don’t try to be perfect. Then move on. In so doing, you’ll begin to reclaim your life, your power and your peace of mind.


I give myself permission not to be perfect. Assessing my past, I recognize that perfection wouldn’t have brought me the acknowledgement that I craved. Perfection won’t bring me any greater acceptance or approval in the present. I am, and have always been, a valuable person. I do my best, I aspire to be accurate and precise, but I let go of any false belief that I have to be perfect to be accepted. The Universe accepts and approves of me, as I am, therefore I do the same.