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Get Out of Your Head!

One of the biggest causes of procrastination is overthinking.

Overthinking comes from risk aversion. Risk aversion is the tendency to avoid risks and/or have a low tolerance for risks.

The aversion to taking risks comes from the need for perfection or perfectionism. The need for perfection is an overwhelming fear of making mistakes and the need for things to be done right. This is often accompanied by critical self-evaluation and concerns of other evaluations.

Perfectionism is rooted in low self- confidence and the belief that you are not enough. It manifests as a fear of making mistakes. When we are motivated by fear we limit our options causing us to not always make the best choices.

Most of us feel the pressure of the need to improve our performance. It has been ingrained in, not only our upbringing but our society. From the time we are born, the process of performance improvement from our caregivers begins. When we learn to walk we are taught how and where to go to be safe and not harm ourselves, when we learn to talk our caregivers correct our pronunciation.

As we get older we receive messages about how to wash, dress, walk, use manners, etc. We then go to school and we are not only evaluated but graded on our performance and our performance begins being compared to others. Some kids are rewarded for their performance and some are disciplined for their lack of. When making mistakes, in addition to the criticism we receive,there are often consequences and restrictions until our performance improves.

The expectation and demand to meet and surpass expectations follows us into adulthood and we grow up to be adults who fear the consequences of not performing to the standards of others. This can be intensified for individuals who grew up in abusive homes or with critical parents. The consequence for to less than perfect behavior is far greater in these circumstances.

After years of operating this way we eventually feel the pressure and weight often carrying us to therapy or a Life Coach such as myself for help.

The way to address your difficulties with perfectionism is through self- awareness. We can’t change what we are not aware of. Below are some steps to help you improve your relationship with perfectionism.

  1. Identify what situations or people trigger your perfect standards and the unique ways your perfectionism manifests. You may want to keep a diary that includes: the date, your perfectionistic thought, behavior, your mood at the time, who you were with, etc.

  2. Ask yourself if this standard is helpful or not. Not all standards are harmful. Standards stop being beneficial when they can’t be met, or they can only be met by being harmful to you or others. (Hint: high amounts of stress over a long period of time are harmful). Identify which standards are helpful and you want to keep, and which ones harmful and you want to adjust or let go of. To assist with this list, consider the extent this standard interferes with your functioning (your relationships, your emotions, accomplishing your goals, etc.).

  3. Count the Cost. List the costs of becoming less perfectionist such as I will make more mistakes, I will initially be more anxious. Keep in mind many of these costs are possible but not probable so next to each cost score the likelihood of it happening. Then, write the possible benefits of becoming less perfectionistic. Examples include I can finally accomplish my goals, people will enjoy spending more time with me, etc.

Now that you have your list of what triggers you, what standards you choose to keep and the cost and benefit, it’s time to identify one goal you want to accomplish that has been delayed as a result of your high standards and perfectionism. Once you’ve identified that goal, start working on it by being mindful of the times perfectionism attempts to creep into your thoughts and behaviors. When this happens, acknowledge them and lovingly let them know, you no longer need them.

If you would like further support with overcoming your overthinking. Please contact me at and set up a free clarity consult.


Kamesha Tarell

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