Is perfectionism your friend or foe?
Do you constantly strive for perfection in everything you do? Are you never satisfied with your work, clothes, weight, appearance, or accomplishments no matter how hard you try? If so, you may be a perfectionist.
What do you think of when you hear the word 'perfectionism'?
The dictionary defines perfectionism as 'a personal standard, attitude, or philosophy that demands perfection and rejects anything less. '
A perfectionist is someone who strives for flawlessness and works hard to achieve the best possible outcome – to be exceptional and achieve the highest standards in everything. In general, society tends to think positively about perfectionism and see it as the pursuit of excellence. They believe it allows them to be efficient, organised, and ready for anything.
There are other views, however, that suggest perfectionism isn't necessarily about being perfect.
Often people talk proudly about being a perfectionist. They sometimes boast about not being satisfied until their work is perfect. They wear it as a badge of honour in job interviews and their annual work appraisals. Some proudly talk about how they maintain their 'perfect' weight, fitness or appearance and can't understand those who don't.
But is perfectionism a good thing or a bad thing?
Like most things, there are both positives and negatives to perfectionism.
Perfectionism can lead to greater success and the accomplishment of hard goals when compared to those who don't strive for perfection. Perfectionists also tend to be more highly motivated and conscientious in their work, relationships, and daily lives. They are high achievers who care deeply, sometimes obsessively, about what they do.
However, while perfectionism can be a fantastic motivator, it can also lead to a decrease in productivity when taken too far, so it's important to keep things in perspective and work out what is important.
When we get bogged down by the constant need for perfectionism, it can lead to procrastination, feelings of inadequacy and fear of failure. Perfectionists can also be inflexible, judgemental, and more critical than necessary. They can spend hours stressing and trying to make a piece of work or a project perfect, not because they want the job to be amazing, but because they have a fear of failing and not meeting their goals and expectations. They may be scared that their effort won’t be recognised, it won’t be good enough no matter what they do and that their personal worth will suffer. This can lead to overthinking, excessive checking and seeking reassurance, or simply spending far too much time planning and making lists. Their mind is in overdrive and it’s not healthy.
The physical and mental tolls it can leave, such as burnout, stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues, are debilitating rather than empowering.
Therefore, perfectionism can be a 'double-edged sword' to our overall health and well-being.
Given perfectionism is so powerful, having awareness of your thoughts and behaviours will help you manage your activities and improve your productivity while taking care of yourself. It will also lessen any negative impacts our perfectionism may have on those around you – which is equally important.
Perfectionism is a dream killer
If we lean too heavily on the side of perfectionism, we can experience a loss of creativity, imagination, and joy. The very nature of perfectionism crushes these wonderful traits as they simply don't adhere to the rigidity and rules of being perfect. In fact, they are the complete opposite and embrace freedom, uncertainty, messiness, flow, and dreams. If you do have perfectionist tendencies, it’s important to remember that without creativity, freedom, and imagination, there is no room for joy or dreams.
Perfectionism taken too seriously can keep you stuck. It can impede learning (think fear of failure) and cause us to get too caught up in the 'process' of things, rather than the result and enjoyment.
There are many famous quotes about the negativity of perfectionism:
'Perfectionism is a dream killer, because it's just fear disguised as trying to do your best. It just is.' Mastin Kipp
'Perfectionism is internalised oppression.' – Gloria Steinem
'Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order.' – Anne Wilson Schaef
'You are magnificent beyond measure, perfect in your imperfections, and wonderfully made.' – Abiola Abrams
Some people are carefree, artistic, and accepting and don’t suffer the negative aspects of perfectionism. But others, due to their genetic makeup, upbringing, environment, or psychology, are more predisposed to perfectionism. If that's the case for you, it's important to start exercising self-care and be kind to yourself. Replace any harsh, negative self-criticisms with uplifting and inspiring words. Acknowledge when you have done something well, even if it's not 'perfect'. Be proud of yourself for trying and working so diligently at something.
If you find that you are struggling with perfectionism and positive thoughts are hard, aromatherapy and natural essential perfume oils can help keep your mind clear and relaxed so you can focus on what's important.
Essential oils have been used for centuries to help people clear their minds, focus on the task at hand, and stay relaxed. Serene Body Health has taken this ancient wisdom and created a line of natural aromatherapy and essential perfume oils designed to help you live a more productive life.
You don't have to be perfect. However, we know that living a healthy, balanced life can be challenging. That's why we want to make it easy for you by providing aromatherapy products that will help you feel your best every day.
If you need help overcoming your perfectionism, try Serene Body Health's natural aromatherapy and essential perfume oils. You'll feel the benefits and have more joy and clarity every day.