I bet you are a perfectionist without even knowing
Have you ever thought ‘I’m not a perfectionist, my life isn’t perfect’? That’s the exact reason you are.
I bet your idea of a perfectionist is someone who has all their ducks in a row, on the verge of OCD.
The idea of perfectionism has been slightly skewed along the way for whatever reason.
Tell me if you think this sounds familiar.
Have you ever thought that reaching your ultimate goal will make you more worthy? Have you ever put something off till tomorrow, a diet or starting a project then never followed through with it? Or maybe you start strong and the minute something doesn’t work, you give up.
That’s because it’s you, and me and so many other people right now. Especially with social media which makes everyones lives seem more ‘successful’ than yours (that’s a whole other subject in itself).
Characterised by striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high standards for performance. Being a Perfectionist is when you have a tendency to overly criticise your own behaviour.
It can come out in so many situations, because in the fantasy of tomorrow you can be perfect. The dopamine hit just from planning and imaging what it will feel like to achieve that goal or event is the high so often craved. Then when you don’t get there, you start a cycle of depression and feeling of failure, so the fix for that, another hit of dopamine by creating a new fantasy of the future.
It’s a vicious cycle that affects the smallest of jobs in your life, snowballing into big lifelong decisions. No mater how hard you plan your life out on paper, you just won’t manage to quite get there, the plan means nothing at this point. It doesn’t take long before you stop planning all together because you know its a useless task, an easy out to confirm what you believe you have always known, your not good enough.
Don’t confirm it, it’s not the case. What your truely feeling is the fake failure of letting yourself down through fantasies.
One of the biggest culprits I’ve seen in women is planning to lose weight in the hopes of becoming a better person. “If I lose 10kg, I’ll be a much more confident person”. The failure of losing that weight means confirming what you may always be telling yourself, I’m not worthy.
It’s so fascinating and really could be discussed for days on end. The true take home from this all is, it has absolutely nothing to do with your value and self-worth.
So what do the studies say about it all?
Well it’s true, and backed by many peer reviewed studies (check out what that means here). Being a perfectionist is a term used when an individual puts great importance on the evaluation by others. It’s used to explain how you feel pressured to perform to the highest standards. Avoiding disappointment and disapproval, which can come as an internal force or a perceived external one.
Which is important to note. The disapproval you are concerned about is often just perceived and not necessarily true of the situation.
Although there is a lot of research to back this information, the research has not been able to pin point what domains of life are affected most. Now you can evaluate that how you like but I’d like to think it means there is no specific area that is affected most. Meaning any part of your life can be affected by this type of thinking, just as there is no gender specific links either (this is backed by research).
But what the research does make very clear is that this way of thinking can greatly affect your mental health in both the short term and long term.
Criticising yourself is what creates this cycle. At some point it will become so natural to do, you wont even think twice about the negative impact.
Can we change the path we are on?
Research suggests to practise reflecting on your own attitudes, start to recognise these negative thoughts and early warning signs; all or nothing attitude, failure to delegate tasks, procrastination and obsessing over the future. If you feel like you never seem to achieve your goals, then now is the time to make some change. Remember this is an artificial high, it’s going to take some work to rewire your thinking path. First off, get rid of the calendar planning. Stop planning out a whole weeks worth of tasks and to do’s, it’s just too much.
Begin with right now.
Start small. And complete it. Give yourself a break.
Trust me, it will feel shit to start with. You won’t get the feeling of accomplishment at all because you will be so used to the endorphin release previously felt. The hardest part to this whole change will be the voice in your head. It’s always the loudest, but you have to ignore it. Allow yourself to be the person you are capable and want to be.