Top 5 Books for Recovering Perfectionists

June 2, 2021

a therapist’s bookshelf

Hello there, my friend. Thank you for being here. Has your inner critic been screaming louder lately, or perhaps for as long as you can remember? If so, I hope these books for recovering perfectionists are helpful. Pause and be honest with yourself for a moment. In your experience, has tough love actually worked to build the life that you want? If so, for how long?

What if I told you that it is possible to listen to your hurtful thoughts as well as painful emotions and use them to your benefit rather than using them as weapons against yourself? After all, you are capable of creating wonderful things and making time to rest and play – or whatever you value. I believe it matters how we speak to ourselves, whether we are satisfied or not.

letting go of tough love and choosing self-compassion

The interesting reality is that tough love often leads unnecessarily to even more pain. Tough love relies on fear, shame and control. However, compassion encourages authenticity, caring and discipline. One thing I have noticed about people is that they often rely on tough love in order to do the work that compassion does. Side note: If you’d like to explore how to create your own self-compassion journal pages, please check out this post here, as well. 

I believe that most people are simply trying to build motivation and strive for a more fulfilling life, a more satisfying outlook and a few steps closer to their highest personal potential. At least, this is the case for me. My inner critic has a very tough love way of trying to motivate me for the better. This is why exploring books for recovering perfectionists is important to me.

I have struggled with perfectionism for at least two decades, and have spent the last few years finally noticing significant progress through practicing self-love and cultivating true freedom. A funny thing that often happens when we find our joy is the nagging thought that we wish we would have found it sooner. So, I have compiled a list of the top 5 books I’d recommend for recovering from perfectionism, so you can practice the power of using your imperfections to thrive as soon as possible!

top 5 books for recovering perfectionists

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed To Be and Embrace Who You Are

Author | Brené Brown

Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW is an author, speaker, researcher and shame work expert. The Gifts of Imperfection is a loving, compassionate companion on the journey toward opening ourselves to what Dr. Brown refers to as whole-hearted living. The guideposts in this book are based on over a decade of scientific research. This lifestyle includes practices such as self-compassion, gratitude, joy, courage, connection, and more. I’d highly recommend this book for anyone who wishes to gain practical tools on how to appreciate and care for themselves more, move through the experiences of feeling not good enough or generally get in touch with your more authentic self. This is definitely my number one pick on any books for recovering perfectionists reading list.

Perfectly Hidden Depression: How to Break Free from Perfectionism, Find Self-Acceptance, and Live a Happier Life

Author | Dr. Margaret Robinson Rutherford

Dr. Margaret Rutherford is a practicing psychotherapist and the creator of Self-Work, a podcast covering a wide range of mental health topics with an easier to understand approach. I’ve been listening to her podcast for years and I absolutely love how relatable and down to earth Dr. Rutherford’s content comes across while still maintaining professionalism. This book is no exception! A must-read for anyone carrying the heaviness of perfectionism and despair underneath a mask of having it all together.

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living

Author | Shauna Niequist

Niequist, a self-proclaimed recovering perfectionist, shares her story of the detrimental impact of perfectionism on happiness and health. A faith-based book, Niequist opens up about how Christianity, presence and grace have helped her find hope, connection and meaning. This is an incredibly relatable read for anyone struggling with the chains of perfectionistic tendencies.

The Four Agreements, A Toltec Wisdom Book

Author | Don Miguel Ruiz

Don Miguel Ruiz, a nagual (shaman) from the Eagle Knight lineage, shares ancient Toltec wisdom in this bite-sized guide. Although a short read, this book is jam-packed with thought-provoking medicine and empowering insights. A must-read for anyone interested in breaking free from limiting beliefs.

Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself

Author | Kristin Neff

Dr. Kristin Neff is a leading self-compassion researcher and teacher. This book is overflowing with Neff’s personal experiences and groundbreaking research all about working more effectively with the inner critic as well as practical tools to increase self-care practices. Self-compassion is an invaluable tool on any path involving self-love.

Which of these 5 book suggestions are you going to read first?

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