Aiming for the impossible always takes its toll. Women, bless our hearts, usually end up feeling like a failure, not matter how much we accomplish. Our rational minds know we are doing amazing things, but the constant banter that goes on in our head, tells us the opposite. We are never good enough.
Being a perfectionist is not only hard on us but on the people around us too. We are so critical of ourselves that we expect everyone around us to be beyond excellent. Oh boy!! – that’s a winning recipe for disaster.
Karen Kain, a Canadian prima ballerina and one of the most respected dancers in the world suffers from this perfection disease. She gave more than 10,000 performances and, in her autobiography, said she received satisfaction from about 12 of them. Her primary feeling was disappointment. So do many women — not only incredibly high-achievers like Karen — feel this way?
Research has found that 40 per cent of women (compared to 20 per cent of men) feel inadequate in the workplace and at home simply because they don’t meet the high standards they set themselves. Honestly, I think these figures are low.
So why are so many women plagued with this life-sucking condition? Why are we so scared of being average, of being our own, flawed selves?
Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment and shame. It is not about growth. It is a shield – but such an ineffective one. The quest for perfection is exhausting and unrelenting. We go through our lives trying to be who we think we’re supposed to be, doing and saying what we think people want to hear, putting on whatever mask we think we need. ‘We end up saying “Yes” when we mean “No and “No” when we mean: “Yes. We are so busy worrying about what people think and trying to be someone we’re not that we lose sight of who we really are.
Many psychologists believe perfectionism is closely linked to anorexia, obsessive compulsive disorder, social inadequacy, alcoholism, chronic anxiety and depression. Flaws and mistakes are simply intolerable. So where does all this excessive pressure come from? According to Nicola Phoenix, a psychologist and author of Reclaiming Happiness, there are many factors, but society plays a big part. ‘We live in a society that floods us with unattainable expectations around every topic imaginable,’ she says.
We have to cut ourselves some slack, and, in small steps, embrace our imperfections. ‘First, we have to stop being so hard on ourselves,’ says Phoenix. ‘Perfectionists monitor themselves so closely. They give themselves very little scope to make a mistake, even though we all make errors. The key is to start small — and not be a perfectionist about getting rid of perfectionism!’
Amen to that!
The Real Cougar Woman is a 5-carat diamond who knows the importance of taking care of her health, beauty, relationships, finances and spirituality. Linda Franklin says,”there is no stopping a woman who has a strong belief system, passion and a dream. All things are possible”. Linda’s book, Don’t Ever Call Me Ma’am helps women of all ages tap into their power and live life to the fullest.