Are You a Perfectionist?
The world spins relentlessly and we never feel this movement. Yet most of us are spinning around in our own orbits, trying to make our lives perfect. I find that city life is usually the cause of perfectionist syndrome. Living in the country removes the reasons to be perfect.
The city is this life of relentless instant gratification – disposable everything, frenetic jobs that may earn some money but never quite seem to pay the bills. The city is a treadmill in a hamster’s cage – wading through the sawdust, swimming through mud, and endless traffic jams and pollution.
City Life vs Country Life
On that note, do you live in a city? Do you perfect everything that you do? Are you raising the perfect children who must go to the perfect schools? Is your husband’s job good for your reputation or should he still perfect that? Is your amazing work the best ever or do you try to perfect your role day in and day out on the grind?
Psychology Today has many articles on perfectionism, which they describe as “a trait that makes life an endless report card on accomplishments or looks. When healthy, it can be self-motivating and drive you to overcome adversity and achieve success. When unhealthy, it can be a fast and enduring track to unhappiness.”
But being the perfect you, you have probably already Googled that and checked to see whether you do in fact suffer from perfectionism? The worst part about perfectionism, this 21st-century autoimmune disease, is that it is toxic. There is nothing positive about perfectionism, a form of extremism.
“What makes extreme perfectionism so toxic is that while those in its grip desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure, resulting in a negative orientation … Perfectionism is driven primarily by internal pressures, such as the desire to avoid failure or harsh judgment.”
Many perfectionists are addicted to toxic social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more. Their pages are caked with selfies and memes, all linked to how you look, what you earn, what you do for fun and how amazing your gorgeous kids are.
These people compare and criticize constantly – a happy family on Facebook makes them feel inadequate and useless so they post their own happy family picture to rival that one. They find fault, looking for mistakes and errors in other people’s Instagram posts. Or they react negatively to Twitter feeds and to Whatsapp groups they belong to.
You can never compliment a perfectionist – part of their role is to be a victim and a martyr. They do seek approval and validation but only from people who are doing well in society, in their eyes.
You may be reading this blog because you have issues with drinking too much. Throw your mind back to the days when you were an innocent child. How was your childhood? Was it a bubble of pure happiness or was there trauma?
I grew up with alcoholic parents and my bubble burst when my parents fought, threw glasses, were shockingly outrageous, and were constantly drunk. My trauma was neglect and abandonment in terms of a parent meeting all my inner child’s needs. Mom chose wine above mothering.
This is just one example of what Psychology Today calls “adverse childhood experiences”.
The term “adverse childhood experience” refers to a range of negative situations a child may face or witness while growing up. These experiences include emotional, physical, or sexual abuse; emotional or physical neglect; parental separation or divorce; or living in a household in which domestic violence occurs. Other difficult situations include living in a household with an alcoholic or substance-abuser, or with family members who suffer mental disorders, or in a household with an incarcerated family member.
I understand now how the desire to be a perfectionist arises from such a childhood as the need to control becomes a safety net for the now-adult. My own need to control is evident in the way I eat, exercise, cling to the Great Outdoors, and read all about health and positivity. I love a clean house, washing on the line, and the perfect garden. I get stressed when the dogs dirty my house, the garden is over-grown and there are no fresh vegetables to eat in my fridge.
On that note, I tried taking cannabis oil to destress. I found that it sorted out my perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms – yes, it really worked! It is a panacea for all kinds of issues, even perfectionism – and it helped me to sleep like a dream. In fact, JustCBD is one of the best places to get your health kick in a bottle!
Controls Make us Feel Perfect
There are dangers in our controlling behaviors, and they are strongly linked to perfectionism. Growing up, I was always the star of the class and got very good grades and I strived to do well at sports too. In my middle age, I still strive to do things well, not half-half. Are you like that too?
“Perfection, of course, is an abstraction, an impossibility in reality. When taken too far, the striving for perfection can lead to negative outcomes, like procrastination, a tendency to avoid challenges, rigid all-or-nothing thinking, toxic comparisons, and a lack of creativity. Maladaptive perfectionism is often accompanied by depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, and even suicidal impulses.”
Think about it: many people who strive to be perfect are doing it without realizing or acknowledging that they are fearing failure. They worry constantly about what others think of them. I can guarantee you that no one notices your fancy clothes, fast car, perfect house, and matching couch covers because they are so busy making sure their own things are perfect. OR they are so busy trying to make ends meet that they notice only their immediate surroundings.
Distraction and Ego Rule
Look around you at people driving while on cell phones, taking selfies, checking Facebook, answering all their WhatsApp, and moving files around?! This is city life and these people don’t notice your perfect life! Who cares if your boss notices your latest research paper or your latest sale? Who cares if you get a bonus this month or were featured in an article last month? Only you care.
Many perfectionists drink too much and are high-functioning alcoholics. They work, drink, hardly eat, work some more, and drink some more. They are high achievers and we sometimes call them A-type personalities. The irony is that many people who stop drinking become high achievers and perfectionists! Their next addictions take over – it could be work, it could be exercise, diet, or family. We are all susceptible.
If you recognize yourself in this blog, take note. Get help, try to change, and try to find simplicity. The rural lifestyle is for me. Waking up to the birds and to the silence of nature is what I dream of. One day. It will be mine. What is your dream? No, not the dream of your boss or your child or your perfect husband! What is YOUR dream?
“Since perfection is an illusion, the pursuit of it is never complete–and neither are your projects. You may get things done, but you are in a constant battle with the decisions and motivation to complete certain things. The “what ifs” and expectation of a negative consequence or result preoccupies you and the pressure can be overwhelming.”
Perfectionists Hide from People
So says Marla Tabaka in her article on IncAfrica about perfectionism. She notes that perfectionists feel safe in a stress-free environment and don’t want to try new things in case they look bad doing something new and out of their zone.
“Perfectionists are intensely afraid of being judged by others. They often want the outside world to view them, not only as being perfect, but making perfection easy. Even when your world is a disaster zone, you put up a front to lead others to think it’s all just perfect.
Perfectionists like to stick with what they know. If you’re presented with an opportunity that means you’ll have to develop more skills or move outside of your comfort zone, you’re likely to turn it down. You’re afraid that you’re not smart enough to tackle a new learning curve and will be seen as a failure or let someone down.”
If this is you, have you tried writing your daily journal to offload and see the patterns emerging from your “perfect” life? Do you ever laugh? Do you ever take up a new challenge or creativity? No? You are too scared to try in case you fail? Do you believe in YOU or in what others think of you?
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“Hewitt and Flett say that perfectionism is a risk factor for psychological disorders–not a disorder itself. If it leads to depression, anxiety, or other exhausting mental states, therapy can help. Yes, you can develop a healthy mindset and make life much easier and more rewarding for yourself.”
It is time to be imperfect for a change – do something outrageous this month, and no selfies allowed!
Dive into August with our Sober Sprint! Join the pop-up Facebook Group where you will find other people on this path, already chatting about their relationship with alcohol. The Sprint will run from August 1st to 5th. So, jump in the Sober Sprint Express now!
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