This makes them more likely to agree with the good points you make. Point out common ground. Draw attention to the things you agree on with the other person. This helps make the differences between your opinions feel smaller. The key to healthy, adaptable perfectionism is in your expectations. So start by asking yourself, in what way is it helpful for me to think like this? In what way is it helpful to spend so much time and energy on making sure every aspect of something is perfect? If your demands and high expectations often leave you disappointed, upset or stressed, then clearly they're not helpful. As an adult, therapy offers us still another chance. Again, we don't generally make drastic changes in our basic personality; if we're an introvert we're not likely to become an extrovert. However, we can heal some old wounds. We can reduce the shame. We can drop old ways of coping that are not being effective for us, learn new ways of coping and overcome the emotional barriers that could keep us from using these new ways. We can further develop our real selves. We can gain understanding of how we operate, think, and feel, and how we came to be that way. "Oh, now I see why I could never make a model airplane!" And how it contributed to my feeling bad about myself. This understanding can give us some emotional relief and an increased ability to accept ourselves. Often we gain increased understanding and acceptance of our parents with their flaws as well. Nobody ever had perfect parents, and our parents had parents too. Nine times out of ten, perfectionists get hung up on the small details, needing every part of theirs or someone else's work, a social occasion, relationship, attitude or appearance etc.

to be perfect. Problem: "What if people don't like my assertiveness?"When you start behaving more assertively, expect resistance, but stick with it. You might expect the people in your life to be happy and supportive when you get more assertive because your aim is to improve relationships. Unfortunately, people often have a negative reaction to change at first, even if they come to prefer it later. The closer the relationship is, the more likely you are to run into conflicts when you try to become more assertive. Practice your breathing. Notice how you feel when the air is moving through your nostrils and pay close attention between inhaling and exhaling. Some people will try to push you back into your old communication style, even if they used to complain about it. There are many reasons why people may react negatively to a change in your communication style. People tend to dislike change, even if it is good for them. When you change how you communicate with other people, they may feel confused. People expect you to act the way you always have. Don't blame others for their expectations--these expectations are based on your past behaviour! Lastly, people don't like giving up control. If you usually behave passively, you have given over some power and control of your life to those around you--they may not like giving it back. Remember, the control was never really in their hands: you were the one who gave it to them, and you can choose to take it back at any time. Incorporate free guided meditations online to help get you started. Sites like the Chopra Center have great ones. Schedule at least two to three minutes a day when you first start. Then slowly add additional time.

Discover which type of meditation is best for you, and master it. But actually, it would be more be helpful to get some perspective and decide if, in the greater scheme of things, a particular aspect that's not perfect really does need so much time and attention. Perhaps all that time and attention could be better spent elsewhere. So yes, the meal you made for friends last week was (almost) perfect but you were so stressed that you had a row with your partner and you were stressed and exhausted by the time everyone arrived. Imagine how much better an occasion like that will be next time if, instead of fussing about getting the minor details absolutely perfect, you spend your time having a relaxing bath and an hour to yourself before your friends arrive. Therapy also helps us develop strategies to operate more effectively. We can make important changes that will have a tremendous positive effect on our lives. Therapy is not the only way to make changes. Being involved in an intimate relationship can have a positive effect on our personalities, as can spiritual experience and probably a number of other things. Therapy is just the most likely successful and fastest way to go about it. You can see how some of this information applies to what I've told you about myself. Also some of the stories about my patients reveal the effects of ADD on their personality development and problems. Sorting all of this out is one part of their therapy. Avoid starting to be more assertive when you are exhausted or a relationship is strained to its limit, because the first period will likely be stressful. Choose a time when you have some energy in reserve. It is wise not to become assertive with everyone in your life all at once, because then you may face strain within many relationships. Pick one person at a time. Explain to the other person that you are planning to change your way of communicating. Find a balance where you do your best but at the same time don't get caught up in trying to tweak, improve and perfect - or insist that someone else improves and perfects - each and every detail. Will anyone really object if, for example, one course of that celebratory meal was bought at the supermarket instead of made by you?

Will they be very disappointed if you don't have exactly the right candles, flowers, side plates or whatever it is that you're getting hung up about? Think differently about what it means when things don't meet your high standards and expectations; when other people - colleagues and family members, for example - fail to do things as well as you. If you feel comfortable, you can even ask for feedback about your communication. That can help the other person feel more in control. Give others time to adjust to your new style. One of the people who told me about meditation was my dear friend Anthony. His story was so compelling to me because whenever I'd run into Anthony at our local gym, he always had a peaceful presence. I told him how I admired his calmness. He said, I don't want you to think that my life has always been like this. He explained that he was forty-two years old and, when he got his first job out of high school, he thought he was going to work for the company for the rest of his life. He loved his job and worked his way up to a management position. I thought I had it made, and I was living the American dream, he said. Then one day after 19 years of services his management position was dissolved and he was handed a severance package. For the first time in his life, he found himself unemployed. And he could not find work anywhere. After ten weeks of being unemployed, he became depressed. Then something came over him. I knew I had to start meditating again to help calm my spirit and to stop my downward spiral of feeling depressed. I made the commitment and started meditating like I used to do before my life got so busy that somehow I had forgotten about how meditation used to help me. Once I started attending guided meditation sessions again, I just felt more relaxed.

I began to recognize that maybe losing my job was a benefit to my health. I had somehow gained twenty-five pounds, and I never thought about how the extra weight was affecting my health. Shortly afterward, he was recruited for a job with a Fortune 500 company. Boy, was I excited. This time, however, before I went on this interview, I did something I have never done before. I sat in my car and meditated for twenty minutes before my roundtable interview with four people. I was very relaxed, confident, and sincere all within myself. After the meeting was over, I felt that I had nailed it. Less than twenty-four hours later, the recruiter contacted him with a job offer with a substantial increase in salary and benefits. And after he started his new job, he lost the twenty-five pounds. Instead of focusing on what isn't perfect, focus on what aspects of the meal, party, job, relationship or someone else's efforts are good and good enough. Tell yourself to turn a blind eye to the imperfections. Force yourself to look for the positive aspects and focus on them. Finally, bear in mind that whether you're making a celebratory meal, organizing your child's birthday party, decorating a room or preparing a presentation, whatever it is, when you are tense, stressed and stuck on insignificant details, you narrow your thinking and lose perspective. You're more likely to do and achieve better when you can relax and enjoy what you're aiming for. Why set impossible standards that just create frustration and stress? When you are enjoying what you're doing, your perspective broadens, and you're more likely to focus on the positive aspects of the situation. It's a positive dynamic where one aspect positively influences another. Wilton, a fifty-seven year old patient, has a stressful job in a very dysfunctional organization. She is bright and has held some good positions, but she is struggling.