Is Perfectionism Ruining Your Health?

9 Aug

Marcia from Desperate Housewives was an example of an extreme perfectionist.

WHEN conjuring up the image of a perfectionist, what often springs to mind is an immaculate, glossy-haired woman with a spick and span house and an impressive career to boot. However while many perfectionists may seem perfectly in control on the outside, on the inside they might be telling a whole different story.

I have always been a bit of a perfectionist. Whether it comes to work, keeping fit or organising work events, I get utterly frustrated if things don’t go as planned. To paint a clearer picture – when things don’t go seamlessly, I often end up a crumpled, neurotic mess. I’m not sure what drives my need to get things perfect – but I am sure there are many women out there who can relate.

In today’s society, we are continually met with women who appear to have flawless lives – the perfect body, husband, career etc. Despite knowing that perfection is simply impossible to achieve, it can be difficult not to feel inadequate when it seems everyone else is doing great.

It is not just women who suffer feeling this way. After tennis player Andy Murray’s tearful loss against Roger Federer at the Wimbledon men’s single final, Murray was criticised for being ‘dour-faced’ and miserable. However more so though than anything, I believe he is just another extreme perfectionist.

Now through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, people have the opportunity to create a life that they want people to see. Today already I have witnessed a slew of posts by people bragging about their great lives are – which is all very well mind you – but in my eyes, most of them seem highly invented.

The pressure to be perfect can be often overwhelming.  There have been many times in the past where I have felt like a complete failure if I haven’t got the job I wanted, if I’ve ate too much chocolate or if someone has criticised me. Drastic I know, yet I can’t seem to shake off the feeling that I could do better.

One of the positive things you could say about perfectionism is that it gives people the incentive to strive for what they wish. This is what I believe spurs my desire for independence and ambition. However perfectionism doesn’t always result in good, as a teenager I suffered from severe anorexia nervosa, an illness where sufferers usually possess personality traits such as anxiety, low self-esteem and of course, perfectionism.

Not all cases are the same – however studies have shown that a majority of people with eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder and depression all suffer from acute perfectionism. Those who suffer from perfectionism are also less likely to sleep well and tend to work their bodies harder physically as well as preventing them from forming healthy relationships with others.

Having such high-expectations for yourself can also be mentally deteriorating, particularly when original plans fail. Perfectionists tend to berate and exhaust themselves to the point where they end up giving up, which can be emotionally and physically damaging in the long run.

If the above describes you to a tee, then it may be time to cut yourself some slack. After all, imperfection is what makes us human, regardless to what your Facebook status reads.

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One Response to “Is Perfectionism Ruining Your Health?”

  1. Moment Matters August 9, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    I learned to accept my not-perfect-self. It doesn’t have to be perfect all the time. Not being perfect is actually good because you keep on striving for improvement; and having a perfect life is a boring life.

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