December 3, 2017

We are taught from an early age to seek perfection. "Don't make a mistake." "You are perfectly right." "Be a good girl, get me a pen...Thanks that's perfect." "How do you want your coffee?- Black with a splash of milk. That's perfect." "Practice makes perfect." The drive for perfection is further encouraged by the images blasted around us in this increasingly media saturated world. "Perfect" is tossed around casually, as if tossing a backpack over the shoulder. 
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, perfect is: 1) being entirely without fault or defect- flawless; or 2) satisfying all requirements. Is that possible? When I look in the mirror before I go out, can I look perfect? Is that even a desirable goal for which to strive?

Why is striving for perfection a problem? Perfectionism correlates with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and other mental health problems. It is okay to want to be the best you can be but  problematic  if you are never satisfied, no matter how hard you try or how good you are. 

Perfectionism- the Quest for Unrealistic Standards!
Imagine never being satisfied with your efforts. The profound sense of inadequacy can sometimes lead to suicidal thoughts and actions. In the last ten years, suicide rates have increased for both genders and all age groups, jumping to 13 per 100,000 people in 2014 from 10.5 in 1999 an almost 25% increase. There is reason for concern!

How can we address this?
  1. Reframe failure. Rather than viewing it negatively, see it as an opportunity to learn.
  2. Keep perspective on yourself and others . Remember, people share their fun times on social media not their struggles. 
  3. Recognize your strengths and your challenges. No one excels at everything. 
  4. Share your mistakes with others, modeling that it is okay to mess up.
  5. Indulge in self-care on a regular basis, whether it is a bath, meditation, a walk, or a drink with a friend. Find an outlet that works for you. 
  6. Surround yourself with people who share and support your positivity. Gently call out those who try to sabotage you or feed into your perfectionistic voice.
  7. Have fun with the experience rather than focusing on the end game.
Finding Acceptance 

We live in a judgmental world. If we are not perfect, we are judged- by ourselves and others- as not good enough. We are too thin or too fat; too stupid or too smart for our own good; too lazy or too hyper-active- the list goes on and on. 

Let go of the judgement and accept who you are. Do not "airbrush" your life as if you are modeling for a magazine. If it is change you seek, recognize the choices you must make and the consequences of those choices. Be the best you can be; in some areas you may excel and, in others, fall short.

What a relief to embrace yourself, your families, and your friends as they are- with their strengths and challenges. When your children see your mistakes, they may feel safer with theirs. When they see you angry, they learn they can get angry- without being a bad person. When children learn that they are not their parents' sole focus, children learn the more realistic language of relationships and love. 
We cannot be perfect but we can increase our self-acceptance, and model it for our loved ones; in this way we can become more comfortable with our messy lives and more open to the adventures that lie ahead.

Think Positively and Take Actions to Achieve Your Goals
At Core Counseling, you can pursue Mind-Body Wellness through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness, and other therapeutic techniques. To find out more or to schedule an appointment, call me at Core Counseling, LLC: 201.875.5699. Experience a comfortable, private and confidential environment with an atmosphere of encouragement, optimism, and compassion.
Together we can find solutions to your core issues. "If you look for perfection, you'll never be content:"  Leo Tolstoy. "The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection:" Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.  

In Health and Wellness,

Lisa Fedder, MSW, LCSW, LCADC
560 Sylvan Avenue                     108 Baker Street
Englewood Cliffs, NJ  07632       Maplewood, NJ  07040
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