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How to Be an Imperfectionist: The New Way to Self-Acceptance, Fearless Living, and Freedom from Perfectionism Paperback – June 4, 2015
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From the Publisher
Perfectionism Is Poison (chapter 3)
Stephen Guise (Imperfect Author)
- Learn about the 5 types of perfectionism—some will apply to you and others may not
- Discover 22 mini habit solutions to overcome your perfectionistic tendencies
- Gain a new appreciation for imperfection in yourself and others
- Find everything you need to become an imperfectionst and live a better, happier life
Perfectionism: More Trouble Than It Seems
Perfectionism is like a mild poison, you can suffer from it but not even be aware of its negative effects because you're used to the symptoms.
Perfectionism is seen as a "positive flaw," when it is actually devastating.
- Studies find that perfectionism is strongly linked to depression and suicide
- Perfectionism is the primary cause of passivity and inaction
- Studies show that perfectionism can hurt performance and creativity
- Every person has perfectionistic tendencies. Nobody is perfectly imperfect!
Unrealistic Expectations End in Disappointment
Every Chapter Begins With a Comic!
This book isn't merely educational, it's written to entertain! Every chapter begins with a clever but poignant comic that introduces the upcoming content. Now you've seen one. There are eight more!
"This book deserves to become a classic."
~ Melissa Wiederrecht
"Stephen expertly interweaves the scientific research with personal experiences, trial and error, and reader stories. Most importantly, Stephen lays out numerous easy to implement strategies to combat the problem. These aren't all conceptual 'change your attitude' ideas, either. They are actionable steps that provide immediate progress."
"An ingenious guide to actually making progress."
"This book helped to set me free!"
~ Sonia Thompson
"I just finished the book, and I can already feel a paradigm shift happening."
About the Author
- Publisher : Selective Entertainment LLC; 1st edition (June 4, 2015)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 223 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0996435409
- ISBN-13 : 978-0996435406
- Item Weight : 10.7 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.51 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #45,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on March 27, 2022
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Top reviews from the United States
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PROS: First, the structure of this book is really clear and usable. I loved that Guise didn't waste our time with a lot of "here's how to know if you're a perfectionist" drivel and instead focused on understanding perfectionism, its causes, and its solutions. In particular, I found Guise's review of the academic literature on perfectionism to be both conscientious and valuable. It does seem true that when academics are talking about perfectionism being good, they are focusing on the aspects that aren't really a focus on perfection (like "seeking excellence" or "being organized"). Guise also does a great job simplifying the categories that the academics used and adding ones of his own when needed. Next, Guise does a great job explaining how perfectionism has to be perceived as something bad if any real progress is to be made. So long as you are secretly congratulating yourself on your "flaw" of wanting everything to be perfect, you won't understand just how pervasive the problem is or be very effective in changing it. Thirdly, Guise flummoxed me by introducing new (to me) aspects of perfectionism: insisting that the context be perfect in order for you to take action ("I'm going to speak up at the meeting at work today...no, actually, Jamie's here, and he talks too much so no one will hear me...or, oh no, it's an AFTERNOON meeting this time, well, that's a loss because I'll be too tired...or, I'm sitting right next to the boss? that's too much stress, forget it; I won't speak up.") and goal size (assuming a goal has to be a "Standard American Goal"--something other people would use as a goal, a big chunk of obvious success rather than small goals of incremental progress). I didn't think I was very perfectionistic until I read about these kinds. I can see how I've fallen into these perfectionisms time and time again, and just from reading Guise's book, I've already made a lot of progress in changing the way I think about context and goal size. This is especially important to people who liked Guise's Minihabits book, because if you are like me, you added some great minihabits, made a lot of progress, and yet still felt somehow whiny and unsatisfied because you were fixated on the external "standardized" major goal. In my case, this meant I made a lot of daily progress in writing a book, but I still felt bad because I didn't have "Publish a book" checked off my imaginary perfectionist list. Why should "publish a book" be the goal? It's too big a chunk to be focusing on right now. I just got lulled into insisting my life wasn't right until this "society-approved" goal was done, and I didn't think any smaller goals or a life of progress could count for anything.
Guise makes a lot of other great points throughout the book, but I don't have time to detail them all! :) I will say that Guise's humor is a plus.
CONS: Because this book was GREAT!, I have mostly nitpicky things to say as cons. The one thing I don't think is nitpicky is that Guise could use a broader group of examples. Nearly all his examples were about exercise, writing, and asking for dates. It is nice to write what you know, but it's also important to know your audience, and I'm sure many of Guise's readers would appreciate seeing how his concepts work for a more varied group of activities and goals (e.g. environmental goals, meetings at work, repairing a broken marriage, childrearing, saving money, investing, volunteering, apologizing, traveling, doing taxes, caring for an elderly person, being sick, getting along with difficult coworkers, etc.). Probably Guise drew from his own experience and those of his friends, but he may need to ask family members or other people of varying demographic groups (age, marital status, etc) to get ideas for more examples. That said, many readers will do fine adapting Guise's examples to their own cases without any trouble. Now for the nitpicky things: I had hoped for a discussion of perfectionism regarding OTHERS' actions, and that never really came up. If your perfectionism takes the form of insisting that others behave in a certain way, should the action steps be any different? (For example, I often let my husband do the dishes, then I obsess about the food gunk that is still on them afterward, and that makes him feel bad.) Are there any complicating features we need to be aware of? Most perfectionists I know do have a problem in interacting with others, because their own need for perfect results makes them micromanage or scold other people. Should this be handled any differently than more personal forms of perfectionism? Would it matter if the relationship is long-term or just a momentary interaction with a stranger? (e.g. "That cashier just bagged my meat with my vegetables!") Most of Guise's examples involve either no interaction with other people (e.g. exercise) or very limited response from others (e.g. you ask for a date, the other person says "yes" or "no.")
Guise also uses the phrase "sunken cost" repeatedly, which I found very awkward. I'm sure "sunken" is better grammar than "sunk cost," but I've only ever heard the phrase "sunk cost," and at some point common use wins out over formalized grammar. It really threw me off trying to read that passage smoothly. Lastly (see how nitpicky I have to be to find flaws?), Guise recommends lying down in public to get over one's fear of social disapproval and says it is harmless. In most places this is probably harmless, but where I lived before (not the U.S.), men actually did this, in order to look up women's skirts. (Often they kept a hand mirror in their pockets for when the angles weren't quite right.) Anyway, just be aware that if you do this, especially if you are male, it may not be perceived as harmless by everybody. Again, probably in most places this won't be an issue.
All in all, this was a fantastic book! The cons were really unimportant, and the pros made this book a delight. I especially appreciated Guise's humorous tone. Occasionally, it would even wax a little poetic, like when he wrote: "It's like seeing a dense fog in the woods: danger may lurk behind it, but the allure of its mystery still draws in the curious ones." Nice! I am really happy that this book was so practical and fun.
The book is easy to follow through and reference to because the first nine chapters discusses the subject in detail so that readers can gain a solid understanding of the "Perfectionist" personality, habits, and character. Once this has been covered the final chapter covers actionable steps for easy application that makes it easy to reference.
The book Imperfectionism promises three things [if you check the subtitles]: 1. A new way to self-acceptance; 2. Fearless living; 3. Freedom from perfectionism. After reading through this book and applying the action steps, you will agree that the book lives up to its promise.
The book is written clearly from much of the Stephen's own experience as a perfectionist; this makes it a more genuine read than just rehashing most of what has already been written and researched on the subject. The writing style really keeps it flowing forward and I found from Chapter 4 the book really started to take off. The real bulk of the course can be found in Chapters 5-9 because the material is broken up into five subsets of perfectionism that includes ideas of how to overcome them.
Chapter 10, by far the best and everything that you read in the book is leading up to this. Chapter ten delivers the actionable steps you can take in the form of mini-habits so that you can gradually implement these changes into your life. The book is well-structured this way to avoid feeling overwhelmed with "so much to do". This is also done with Perfectionists in mind because a perfectionist will want to implement everything at once and expect instant results. In the book Stephen clearly has your back and understands his target audience and how they are going to approach the material. Very few authors could do it this way.
The book is loaded with fantastic and original quotes by the author that spells out the condition of perfectionism in a way that we can understand and completely relate to.
Some of my favourite quotes from the book:
"If you don't manage to reframe perfectionism as a damaging and inferior mind-set, the illusion of its superiority will thwart your desired changes."
"Perfectionists do not accept a small amount of value or progress; they want only big, smooth, perfect wins."
"The perfectionist enjoys safety and protection from what they fear, and that--not striving for excellence, is the most common reason people become perfectionists."
I also liked how the author delivers the material to describe the negative impact and effects of perfectionism; it creates a negative mind-set that is restricting and harms us. Guise portrays one of the symptoms of perfectionism to watching huge amounts of TV, in order to escape from facing the fear of doing the things that challenge our perfectionism. As it is said in the book: "Perfectionism is the artificial construct that constricts, rigidifies, and conforms behaviour to an unreasonable standard."
The bottom line is, "How to Be a Perfect Imperfectionist" is designed to set you free from the "mental chains" of your fear-based perfection. By following the advice and following up with the action steps in chapter ten, you will be able to embrace the life and freedom of living as an imperfectionist. As we see, by becoming an imperfectionist you can have reduced stress and better results by taking action in more situations. And, the more fearless, confident and free a person is, the more they embrace imperfection in their life."
This book should be read by anyone who is not only a perfectionist and is looking for a way out but, must be recommended as a source of material in schools and universities so that we can teach people from a young age to embrace the freedom of their imperfectionism.
Top reviews from other countries
The advice in this book isn't bad, but there are a lot of stories and examples to reiterate points which simply don't need reiterating for the fifth time, and the useful material i.e. the domino effects of perfectionism and some small behaviour changes to combat them, could have been explained and conveyed in a book of about 30 pages rather than this 200+.
There is a lot of stereotyping which is a bit cringey to read in 2021, some fairly toxic ideas about gender roles, body types and health and wellness. Referring to championship adult athletes as 'girls'... just ew. Come on.
Overall, not the worst book I've read, but could do a lot better to respect my time. Don't buy this book if you want concrete advice on a topic you've lived with, contemplated, and fought with for your whole life though. If you want an easy read and you've only just discovered you're a perfectionist, there's probably some useful information here for you.