It’s 6:45 am on a Saturday morning, I’m on my second cup of coffee, have a load of laundry in, a two-mile run planned for later this morning, along with lots of kid stuff, and a socially distant hang out with our friends outside to reconnect. Plus, there are thoughts—so many thoughts—swirling around my head as if I have 1000 different boxes open at once. This is what it’s like being a type-A, high-functioning, anxiety-driven perfectionist.

Raise your hand if you can relate.

Perfectionism is like a disease that spreads systemically through your life, sapping the joy. “I  should always be doing,” “It’s never enough,”  judging, judging, judging at every turn. And what’s more: It’s on the rise. Studies show that perfectionism is increasing with each generation, leading to higher levels of anxiety and depression.

It’s a set of rules we subscribe to that are as stubborn as the people who hold them. But here’s a little-known secret: You can break your contract with perfectionism. Here’s how to rewrite your laws of perfectionism to serve you, rather than the other way around.

1. Understand Its Purpose

At the root of perfectionism are belief systems around how to behave, how to live, and how we explain why things happen. From these beliefs, we learn to judge ourselves. As children, we create these belief systems, influenced by our parents or caregivers. We didn’t necessarily choose these beliefs, but we surrender to them unconsciously, and they become laws in our minds—our truth. We want to please our parents, we want to be liked, we want to do “good.” This is where it starts.

To begin to lift the burden of perfectionism, we have to first become aware of the laws that we are allowing to govern us. For many of us, they sound something like this:

“I must always be perfect.”

“I’m not good enough.”

“I should get everything right.”

“If I don’t do this perfectly, then everything will fall apart.”

“I want people to like me.”

Perfectionists will tend to be the judge and jury of their lives, as Don Miguel Ruiz says in his book, “The Four Agreements.” The judge presides over every move we make, constantly deliberating as to whether or not we are living up to the laws we have created. This system provides order. As long as we adhere to it, we think it will keep us safe. The problem arises when the judge is ruthless: never ruling in our favor and using laws that don’t even serve us. This is not justice.

2. Let Go (You’ll Be Okay!)

Practice letting go by caring a little less about one thing each day. Maybe it’s a work project or what someone thinks. Take a deep breath and tell yourself it’s all good and everything will work out how it is supposed to work out—even if you don’t fully believe it. At first, it will feel like a trust fall—scary and uncertain. The judge might swoop in and rule against your attempts to overthrow the system. But just keep gently overruling, with self-compassion, telling yourself it’s going to be okay.

Even when things don’t work out as you had expected or wanted, allow the chips to fall where they may, and work to accept it, as it helps get you closer to where you need to be. For years, I have forced my expert control mojo to make things happen, many of which probably shouldn’t have worked out that way—and wouldn’t have, save for my sheer force of will. There have been jobs I have taken, plans made, vacations scheduled, friendships continued, all because I felt I “should.” They weren’t the right things for me in hindsight, and I’ve since learned to trust the process. Things will work out; maybe not the way we have planned, but possibly much, much better.

3. Write Rules that Serve, Not Punish

There is an upside to perfectionism: The sheer will and motivation creates a deep well of energy and drive for achievement. It has served me well. I was the editor in chief of a magazine at age 31, I have had a career that included being on all the major news networks, I’ve changed careers several times, I’ve written a book while working full time and raising two young children, and on and on. I’ve worked hard, really hard. But here’s the thing that we perfectionists forget: You don’t have to struggle to be successful. You don’t. Joy isn’t the result of struggle. Joy is the result of joy.

Sure perfectionism can help you do amazing things, but at what cost? We’re not built to be perfect, we’re built to be great. And it’s hard to truly be great without feeling great. So rather than pursuing an unattainable goal, rewrite your goals from the inside-out.

Here are my rewritten laws:

“I am enough.”

“I love and accept myself.”

“My worth doesn’t depend on my productivity.”

“I do not have to be perfect. I am human, and I am doing the best that I can.”

“There is no reason to live up to impossible standards.”

“Things won’t fall apart if I don’t single-handedly keep them going. And if they do, then they  weren’t meant to be.”

Write the laws you want to live by. Then become vigilant about them: Recite them often, make them visible, write them down, repeat them in your head. I recall my new laws over and over; and occasionally, I’ll default to the new laws over the old. When this happens, I notice it, relish it even, staying in the positive zone for a few seconds. A shift has begun. With habitual practice, these moments of new thinking happen more frequently. Eventually, the new laws will become stronger than the old.

And when they do, an entirely new world opens up. A world of possibility, joy, ease, and compassion for yourself and others. Most importantly, it uncovers the real you underneath the perfectionism, which, believe it or not, is the best achievement of all.