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The Perfectionist's Handbook: Take Risks, Invite Criticism, and Make the Most of Your Mistakes by Jeff Szymanski, PhD

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Chapter 10

Putting It All Together

There is a common saying when you are trained as a therapist: “Practice what you preach.” I have to admit that the process of writing this book has really put me in touch with all of my own healthy and unhealthy perfectionistic tendencies. The hardest part for me? Showing drafts to other people. I am one of those people who likes to “protect my potential.” However, I also knew that the quality of the book was only going to improve if I relied on outside opinions.

So what strategies did I teach you that I practiced myself? No matter how uncomfortable I felt sending out drafts of this book, I kept doing it. I sent them to friends, family, and colleagues. As difficult as it was for me, I wanted to use the principles of deliberate practice to have them tell me about my writing's weaknesses. I had to remind myself that I am not the best at grammar and punctuation and should therefore find people who are. I had to challenge the notion that I needed to be good at everything when writing. One early comment I received was that my writing did not tell a good story. My first thought: “I am a good storyteller! I just hadn't gotten to that part of the writing. No fair! She must think the book is boring; maybe this is going to be a terrible book. …” Then I started writing the section on harsh self-criticism and was once again reminded to practice what I preach. I repeated to myself that my unhealthy perfectionism was likely operating whenever I experienced ...

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