Skip to content

Perfectionism In This Generation And Ways For Us To Overcome It

We live in a kind of performance driven society in some respects, don't we? Where so much is expected of us - how we do this and the way we do that? A day of A Distinctions at School, High expectations in the Workplace, Entrepreneurs, how we present ourselves over Social Media. Etc. So many feel the Pressure of really high standards being imposed upon them, who aren't Perfectionists by nature. This Post should really benefit some of you - I chose two articles, so the positive is presented.

Perfectionism Is Destroying The Mental Health Of My Millennial Generation

By Daisy Buchanan

It began at school, with A-Star expectations and a dread of failure. Now we’re on social media platforms, locked into a game of mutually assured depression.

During many work interviews, it’s common to be asked: “What’s your biggest weakness?” It’s an awful question to respond to on the spot. We know it’s a trick, and the answer isn’t: “Sometimes it takes me more than two hours to stop looking at my phone and get dressed after a shower” whatever.

The cheat’s answer of choice, the panicky pick that puts you in a better light than the truth might, is along the lines of: “I’m a perfectionist.”

Sure, a little nervy, a little obsessive, but ultimately a detail-oriented workaholic who will not leave the office until the project is completed to the highest possible standard.

However, if you’re a millennial (broadly defined as anyone aged between 18 and 35), there’s a good chance that perfectionism really is your biggest weakness.

A study published by Thomas Curran and Andrew P Hill found the majority of respondents were experiencing “multidimensional perfectionism”, or the pressure to meet increasingly high standards, measured by a widening collection of metrics. The study linked this with the growing number of cases of mental illness among people in their 20s, including eating disorders, anxiety and depression. Perfectionism is a weakness. It’s making us ill.

It’s easy to blame social media for this. The study found that a lot of the perfectionism centered around the participants’ need to “measure up” to their peers, and that they tended to judge others harshly, too.

Anyone with an Instagram account can probably relate to this. We’re coming towards the end of a decade in which we’ve been encouraged to think of our public life as a performance instead of a participation exercise. We know how it feels to envy other people and their celebrations, achievements and holidays, and that our craving for validation leads to feelings of isolation.

Justin Rosenstein, the engineer who created the Facebook “like” button, described a “like” as “bright dings of pseudo-pleasure”, and he has rationed his own social media use, comparing Snapchat to heroin.

We know the way we use social media isn’t good for us. So why are we millennials so susceptible to its lure?

I believe that for many of us, the problem started at school. In 1992, Ofsted was launched as a way of nationalising school inspections and ensuring that students throughout the country were taught and looked after to a high standard. Later that decade, there was a push to encourage a greater number of young people to go to university – as many as 50%, compared with 3.4% of school leavers in 1950.

Broadly speaking, this was a brilliant thing, making life fairer and giving millions of young people the chance to fulfill their potential and access brand new opportunities. Yet I suspect that was also the point where the pressure started to mount. The number of tests, exams and ways of measuring performance increased. It wasn’t enough to aim for an A: we had to shoot for the A-star.

The year between GCSEs and A-levels was occupied by an extra exam, the AS level, and we were told that the competition for university places was so great that we needed to stand out by choosing extra subjects. At my school, the joke was that we called them “mocks”, because you could mock the girls who hyperventilated over them, or fainted with stress – you were meant to keep your anxiety powder dry for the real, terrifying deal. Because it was easy to convince ourselves that, if we got a B, our lives would be over before they had begun.

I’m part of a generation that has been conditioned to seek out metrics. We crave grades, and we long to know how well we’re performing compared with our peers, because this is how we grew up. When Facebook launched, initially it was available only to students – students being the perfect customers, because we were desperate for the validation it offered. We had grown up conflating our sense of our self-worth with our sense of achievement. And being on social media meant there was another target to meet, and another space in which to fear failure.

Perfectionism can allow us to aim high and achieve great things. However, perfectionists are doomed to failure, because we set ourselves standards that are not attainable for humans. We will never meet our goals, to the detriment of our mental health and wellbeing. When we go online, we’re surrounded by platforms that appear to be full of other people meeting these goals. Intellectually, we know it’s all a lovely lie, but emotionally it’s a struggle. Feelings seem like facts.

We need to protect future generations from perfectionism, and recognize that it’s not an advantage masquerading as a weakness. It’s destroying us, and making us desperately sad. I hope the new research inspires us all to check our perfectionist tendencies, and focus on our health and happiness instead. Perfection is a myth, but it can destroy us in ways that are all too real.

Daisy Buchanan is a Freelance Columnist and Feature Writer covering arts, entertainment and women’s issues.

Article Source HERE

Dr Thomas Curran
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science says:

“We are surrounded by these images and messages all the time, and have internalised unrealistic ideals and values. It is one of the reasons why we have seen a rapid rise of socially prescribed perfectionism and a lot of its allied mental health issues, such as negative body image, as well as forms of mental health. Perfectionism is one piece of the puzzle when you think about some of the cultural changes we’ve seen in the past two decades.”

“Perfection is impossible, but it can do real damage. I think that if we can challenge our own perfectionist tendencies, and be more honest and realistic with ourselves, our own better mental health and happiness will follow.”

How to Overcome Perfectionism

By Robert L. Leahy Ph.D. from PsychologyToday.Com

No one is perfect but everyone can improve.

Perfectionism can add to self-criticism, avoidance, hopelessness, and depression.
Perfectionists may fear “failure” so much that they won’t risk trying something new.
There is a difference between perfectionism and healthy high standards.

Most of us know that we can do better and we often strive to improve ourselves by trying harder, looking for opportunities to learn, and persisting at tasks that are important to us. But some of us have perfectionistic standards. We believe that we cannot tolerate the idea that we make mistakes, we cannot accept that we don’t reach the highest levels for ourselves, and we then conclude that we failed and, as this perfectionism grabs a hold of us, we sink into more self-criticism and depression. How can we change this and give ourselves a break?

In previous posts, I have discussed how low self-esteem can lead to more depression by making you avoid people, remain passive, ruminate about your problems, and criticize yourself for being imperfect. I suggested that irrational and demanding rules for yourself lead to more self-criticism and that replacing self-criticism with self-correction, learning, and acceptance can go a long way toward helping you overcome depression. And I described how hopelessness can lead to giving up, discounting our positives, and adding to more depression—How to Overcome Hopelessness. In this post, we will examine how perfectionism adds to self-criticism, avoidance, hopelessness and more depression. Depression is often a system of negative thinking and behavioral patterns that operate as a vicious cycle. Perfectionism leads to self-criticism that leads to avoidance and isolation that leads to loss of rewards that leads to hopelessness that leads to more depression.

We need to break that cycle by changing each link in the chain. Today we will break down your perfectionism.

  1. Is your perfectionism helping or hurting you?
    We often think that our expectations will motivate us to work harder and that we are simply being realistic about what needs to be done. But could it be that your perfectionism adds to your stress, makes you anxious about taking on new challenges, and leads you to criticize yourself? I have seen many perfectionists who ruminate about their past “shortcomings” and seldom give themselves credit for the positives that they do. As a result, they fear “failure” so much that they won’t risk trying something new and challenging. Successful people build their success on cumulative experiences of failure that they learn from. You don’t hit a home run without striking out first.
  2. Are you secretly proud of your perfectionism?
    I have seen many people who secretly harbor a sense of pride that they have demanding, even unrealistic, standards for themselves. They say that they are not like other people and they don’t want to be mediocre. But is this “pride in perfectionism” simply defeating you—even when you make progress? Does it make sense to be proud of something that is making you miserable?
  3. There is a difference between perfectionism and healthy high standards.
    Your maladaptive perfectionism is characterized by the following: “My goals are so high I can almost never achieve them,” “I can’t stand making mistakes,” and “Nothing I do ever feels good enough.” This adds to your misery and self-criticism. But healthy high standards are different. You may think, “My goals are high but realistic,” “I get satisfaction from trying hard even if it isn’t perfect,” and “I can accept making mistakes." Having healthy high standards has the advantage of giving you something that is positive and that is within reach—trying to improve yourself—without burdening you with the impossible.
  4. Everyone is imperfect. Everyone makes mistakes.
    I often ask my patients who are perfectionistic to tell me about people they know well and ask them about the mistakes that they have made. Successful people are constantly making mistakes—because they are engaged in the real world. If everyone makes mistakes at times, why not you? Do you have to be uniquely perfect?
  5. You don’t have to regret mistakes; you can learn from them.
    We often dwell on our mistakes, going over and over in our minds how stupid we were, regretting things that we cannot change. But if mistakes are inevitable at times, why not learn from them. Ask yourself now—and be honest with yourself—which mistakes have you made in the past led you to learn something new? Perhaps you expressed some hostile feelings and you realize it was a mistake. What did you learn? How will you avoid that in the future? Try to think about mistakes as learning experiences, as potential growth, as a lesson learned. That’s a lot less depressing than thinking that a mistake proves that you are a failure.

Keep in mind that making progress not perfection holds true in all areas of your life. Depression is often characterized by the intolerance of what is real about all of us—that we are imperfect, but improvable.

Article Source HERE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *