Perfectionism exists everywhere — including nutrition and wellness. Many of us are on the quest to creating the perfect body, maintaining the ideal weight and having the perfect lifestyle and while it seems like a high-level approach to life, it is not. It actually can be quite debilitating. Achieving lofty goals of weight loss can be satisfying but can lead to a perpetual state of never feeling good enough about who we are and what we’ve accomplished.
Perfectionism is a virus.
Where does it come from? In many cases perfectionism stems from fear and stress and can create weakness in the mind and body. Perfectionism fortunately (and unfortunately) is not real. Think of it as a virus that only exists in our collective mind and affects those most susceptible. Like many viruses, it won’t kill us but it will keep us weak enough to not defend against it. If you are someone that struggles with perfectionism, you know it can be both powerful and difficult to overcome.
Perfectionism is fleeting and unsustainable.
I think we can all agree that a constant state of “perfect” is impossible to sustain. Sure we’ve all reached heights in our careers, in our health and our relationships where we know — wow this is what it feels like and before we know it it’s gone. The usual response to coming off a hot streak of perfectionism is self-attack, self-hate and self-criticism. Some go so far as to quit altogether, while others double up their efforts and it can become obsessive. Perfectionism is not sustainable. There is not one person who can achieve perfect 100% of the time. It’s simply not possible. Nor should it be the goal.
What are we trying to achieve with perfectionism?
Perfectionism creates wonderful attention to detail but often misses the big picture. It will have you believe that what you have achieved thus far is unworthy or not good enough. In trying to satisfy this clever virus, you can miss out on huge milestones in your life. Learn to look at your achievements on a larger scale.
Signs you’re a perfectionist:
- It’s all or nothing
- You are critical of yourself and others around you
- Do you feel pulled or pushed towards your goals? People who feel pushed often suffer from a fear of failure.
- Do you set unrealistic standards for yourself and others?
- You are a results-focused kind of person
- Unmet goals lead to an emotional backlash
If you recognize these traits in yourself, do not despair. If you ran into this blog, maybe it is time to liberate yourself from this vicious virus and look at things with honesty and humility. Recognizing the opportunity for change can lead to breakthroughs in your health and other areas of your life.
As you might have already read on the website, I once had an eating disorder. My eating disorder was all about being perfect, having the perfect body and perfect weight which lead to self-abuse and anorexia. I was one of those susceptible ones we talked about earlier. The constant search for perfectionism was a strategy for me to control difficult emotions. What a terrible strategy but when you are caught in this vicious cycle, you give all the power to the voice of perfectionism. I thought that a perfect body, a perfect life, a perfect career would give me extra power. I thought that by controlling my food intake, I would control my sadness and fears. It took me years of therapy, analysis, hard work and introspection to regain a healthy relationship with food by learning to accept my emotions, to practice self-care and build my resilience to handle any challenges that come my way. I have to say that I can catch myself wanting to do things perfectly but I quickly remind myself to accept mistakes, to see them as opportunities to grow, to accept the uncertainty and let go, laugh, get messy, have fun and focus on what really matters.
My perfectionist friends, I invite you to do the same. Liberate yourself and be the best role models you can be for the young people around you. This world needs us to be the wonderfully imperfect humans that we are!
If you missed my blog WHAT IS ORTHOREXIA? I invite you to read it.