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Trying To Be Perfect Could Be Ruining Your Health

From the UK’s Daily Mail:

Trying to be perfect could be ruining your health

It can trigger heart disease, IBS and insomnia – and some experts say it could even be as bad for you as smoking

By Anna Magee | 14 April 2014

Perfectionism – setting yourself high standards at home or work – is seen as laudable. But research suggests it has a dark flipside, causing not just psychological stress as perfectionists feels the weight of pressure to be perfect, but physical harm – irritable bowel disease (IBS), insomnia, heart disease and even early death.

Experts such as Dr Danielle Molnar, a psychologist at Brock University, Canada, are suggesting perfectionism should be considered as a risk factor for disease in the same way as obesity and smoking.

‘We’re always promoting perfectionism and its benefits of academic and professional achievement, but it’s such a strong factor for so many illnesses, including increased infection and early death, that I think it should be considered by doctors as part of a patient’s long-term health,’ says Dr Molnar.

Really? Do we really live in a society of too many over-achievers? Over-strivers? We haven’t noticed.

If anything, it seems like more and more people have become lazy slackers.

It’s estimated that two in five of us display perfectionist tendencies. And thanks to social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, increasing numbers are concerned about being – or appearing to be – perfect, says Gordon Flett, professor of health psychology at York University in Canada, who has studied the link between perfectionism and health for 20 years.

‘It’s natural to want to be a perfectionist in one area of your life, such as your job,’ he says. But when it becomes an obsessive need for the perfect job, child, relationship, bank balance and body, it causes extreme stress and can affect not only relationships, but your health.

Professor Flett and his team have identified three types of perfectionist. Self-oriented perfectionists, who focus on their high personal standards of perfection; other-oriented perfectionists, who have exacting standards for those around them…

He cites the example of tennis star Andre Agassi, whose father ‘was a demanding other-oriented perfectionist. He’d send 1,000 balls to his son in the hot Florida climate, no matter how Andre was feeling’…

The poor kid. Whatever happened to him?

It doesn’t help that perfectionists – who often become doctors, lawyers, editors, engineers and other occupations requiring exacting standards – are at increased risk of workaholism…

But perfectionists can change and reduce the negative effects, by  learning to accept themselves and mistakes without self-criticism.

‘Lower your standards and accept the occasional failure as an essential ingredient on the road to success,’ says Professor Flett.

‘Most importantly, if perfectionists feel that they need help – physically or emotionally – they mustn’t be afraid to seek it rather than suffering in silence.’

Yep, lower your standards. That’s the lesson we need today.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, April 16th, 2014. Comments are currently closed.

7 Responses to “Trying To Be Perfect Could Be Ruining Your Health”

  1. captstubby says:

    “‘Lower your standards and accept the occasional failure ”

    Tearfull Mrs Captstubby to heart surgeon;
    “Doctor, i know you did all you could.”

    Dr. Jay(” bongger”) Feelgood;

    “.man, there was like so much red stuff…”

    • GetBackJack says:

      You’re a funny man, Capt.

      Seriously, she who must be listened to and I had this discussion not an hour ago. And we both agreed .. corporations ideas about food are a joke and the organic feel good Birkenstock Farm to Table folk are even crazier so we agreed with my best friend a very serious Homeopath in Pittsburgh ..”when you eat out only eat fried foods. Everything that could hurt you is killed in oil that hot.”


  2. BillK says:

    Continuing the work to vilify and demonize the exceptional so that we can all be equal – equally mediocre.

  3. chainsaw says:

    Being “perfect” is another way to express intellegence, i.e. no mistakes? I remember back while in grade school the smart kids had nicknames like nerd or geek. It was not cool to be smart. Now, all the cool/popular kids want to be smart and their under-developed brains are shorting out.

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      This is not new, as you pointed out.

      In every way, humans are insecure most of the time and the only way to beat that is to become successful; Many times that being the result of the very insecurity that caused them to become perfectionists in the first place.

      My point is this, though: That every human being is insecure and that insecurity manifests itself in different ways. The most common way is the “deride the winner” methodology where we see the leftists of today point their fingers at people who are working to support a family or themselves and who generally leave others alone and, as the years progress, find themselves with nice things, a home and a career they can speak proudly of.

      At the high-school reunion, none of the losers show up except for the free picnic the next day, a curious aberration assembled by the successful returnees because they somehow feel guilty that they are successful and want to provide some sort of get-together for the losers.

      But this curious attitude manifests itself in even more curious ways. The union goons will “straighten out” the new employee(s) who put more bumpers on in a day than the “decided-on” quotient.

      The guys in the military will do the same to the young airman who takes it upon himself to clean the latrine, or do extra jobs (ask me how I know) simply because he’s bored at times.

      The losers are everywhere. They believe that status-quo and “normal” are doing the minimum and only what you are told to do.

      The truly successful are not necessarily those who make or have a lot of money. I have met incredibly successful people who have very interesting hobbies and who are more “self-actualized” (a socialist word) than the most pandered to, coddled, award-winning member of the “average is good” crowd.

      You can spot them because they are usually happy, content to stay at home and do some woodworking, read a book, write or create something on their own time and when they are at work, they usually are the ones whose desk is neat, organized, (though not always) and on time, might stay a little late to get something done, etc. They are reliable, trustworthy and speak highly of others.

      Yet, the vast majority of the population has become, as Steve pointed out, a large array of slackers; Who believe that one is due a trophy for just waking up in the morning, which, admittedly is quite an “achievement” for some, given their habit of partying the night away, watching the world pass them by.

      I recall a friend I knew in college. He had been there two years before I showed up and was still there two years after I graduated, still working on that undergrad degree. His father was a brain surgeon and so this kid had money to burn, I think sent to him by his father just so he would stay away from home. I guess he may have finally graduated but his attitude was one of arrogance and contempt for anyone who was doing for themselves and who had it on the ball. He lacked even the tiniest amount of self-discipline and derided those of us in ROTC or on a career path that was “nerdy”.

      Of course, he, himself tried ROTC and found it too “stiff”. His idea of becoming a Navy fighter pilot dashed in the process.

      Don’t know where he is today, though I think he’s possibly learned some hard lessons.

      But he’s exactly the type where, as intelligent as he was, he never expended more than the minimum effort on anything, thinking that was for “losers” who “were stupid”.

      And yes, the interesting part about it is, he always felt he was a victim of something or other.

      Poor, poor little rich kid.

    • chainsaw says:

      Well said Rusty. Kudos
      chainsaw – former 1310 disignator

  4. Enthalpy says:

    The best is the enemy of the good? A number of very smart people have kicked this around for hundreds of years. The best-at what price?

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