The constant pursuit of perfection can cast a shadow over your mental wellbeing. Instead of being a spectator in your own life as you await the elusive “perfect moment”, remember the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
When you learn to courageously embrace your imperfections, allowing room for missteps and stumbles, you kindle the sparks of progress and self-belief, propelling yourself into action rather than remaining on the sidelines.
Have you heard of the bystander effect? There are some great social experiment videos out there, but in essence, it’s when people (in huge numbers) ignore someone in distress, they will walk past and think, ‘Someone else will help them,’ and once one person helps them … others will flock to join.
Part of the reason people will be a bystander is fear. This psychological phenomenon comes from being scared to make a mistake or feeling underqualified. Kind of like stage fright, but for life!
Perfectionism, while often praised as a symbol of high standards and ambition, can cast a rather overwhelming shadow on your mental wellbeing.
Have you ever asked yourself, “Is perfectionism a mental problem?”
When I look at social media, I sometimes wonder. As the pursuit of flawlessness takes the driver’s seat, you may find yourself in an exhausting chase that often leaves you feeling inadequate, dissatisfied, or anxious.
Think of it like trying to catch a cloud – an ethereal, ever-shifting form that’s forever out of reach. Aiming for excellence is one thing, but when the drive for perfection begins to chip away at your happiness, self-esteem, and even relationships, it’s essential to pause and reassess.
Perfectionism, in its excessive form, can lead to mental health challenges like anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive tendencies.
Do you ever notice yourself falling into the trap of your own Bystander Effect? Basically avoiding starting a task because you have no time or energy to do it ‘perfectly’? Waiting for the ideal moment can sometimes mean you’re waiting forever. This fear of making a mistake is such a huge thing to address when teaching first aid that there is even a mantra to help people overcome it.
‘Adequate care given is better than perfect care withheld.’
This mantra can also be of great help in your everyday life.
Adequate care given is better than perfect care withheld translates into the idea that by doing something, anything, you’ll be in a better position than if you did nothing at all. It’s better to take a leap, even if you stumble a bit.
Ever thought about the word “responsibility”? Let’s play with it: “Response-Ability.” It’s all about stepping up and taking action, no matter how small or imperfect. The key here is to respond to life’s curveballs and embrace the idea of failing forward. As the wonderful Stephen McCranie once said, “The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”
What are some of the other traits of perfectionism? Here are a few that may resonate with you. While some of these attributes may initially seem positive or even desirable, it’s the extreme pursuit and the subsequent fallout that signal a problem.
- High Standards: Perfectionists set extraordinarily high standards for themselves in all areas of life, whether it’s work, relationships, or personal endeavours. These standards often exceed what is realistically demanded or even achievable.
- Fear of Failure: The desire to meet these high standards comes with a deep-seated fear of failure. Perfectionists tend to view any shortcoming as a catastrophic defeat, which can lead to significant stress and anxiety.
- Preoccupation with Flaws: Even when they achieve success, perfectionists tend to focus on minor flaws or areas for improvement instead of celebrating their achievements.
- Difficulty Delegating: Perfectionists often struggle with delegation. The fear that others fail to meet their high standards can lead to micromanaging tendencies or doing everything themselves, resulting in burnout.
- Constant Self-Criticism: Perfectionists are usually their own harshest critics. They engage in constant self-evaluation and criticism, which can erode their self-esteem over time.
If you can relate to these and want to learn more about how to remove the mental blocks around critical thinking, check out my blog, ‘Fight Gently: How to stop criticising using the 3 R’s’.
Understanding these traits is the first step in managing perfectionism. Rather than simply suppressing these traits, it’s important for you to recognise when they’re taking an unhealthy turn.
You might have this false idea that failure is a marker of your self-worth. I know I used to have it. Even a private failure can have you feeling discouraged and shameful, you might even tell yourself nasty stories about ‘not being good enough’.
Often this obsession over failure can stem from a belief adopted early on in your life, that over time becomes twisted in your body, causing Thought-Knots that become chronic pain. Addressing these mental blocks is vital but also releasing your fascia goes hand-in-hand because a happy fascia will make it easier to form new habits. To learn more about fascia release, check out my series, Fascia & Feelings, on Instagram & Youtube.