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the dangerous downsides of perfectionism - BBC article

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by balto, Feb 21, 2018.

  1. balto

    balto Beloved Grand Eagle

  2. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Balto,
    Thanks for posting this. I pasted some parts which strike me. Thinking of the great Dr. Sarno in some of these observations. Also, why I am attracted to teaching self-compassion, in that it is the antidote which I need for my own perfectionist tendencies.
    Andy B

    Faced with failure, “perfectionists tend to respond more harshly in terms of emotions. They experience more guilt, more shame,” says Hill. They also experience more anger.

    It’s also been shown that one of the most robust protections against anxiety and depression is self-compassion – the very thing that perfectionists lack. And self-criticism, which perfectionists are so good at, predicts depression.

    Perfectionists are pretty much awash with stress. Even when it’s not stressful, they’ll typically find a way to make it stressful,” says Gordon Flett, who has studied perfectionism for more than 30 years and whose assessment scale developed with Paul Hewitt is considered a gold standard.

    Brilliant observation by the author: "I’ve experimented with some of that letting go myself. It’s gone hand-in-hand with becoming aware when I’m taking on too much and exhausting myself in my attempt to do ‘enough’ (an amount, I’ve realised, that for me doesn’t actually exist)."

    It’s a work in progress. But what I’ve noticed is that, each time I’m able to replace criticising and perfecting with compassion, I feel not only less stressed, but freer. Apparently, that’s not unusual.

    “It can be liberating, allowing imperfection to happen and accepting it and celebrating it,” Rasmussen says. “Because it’s exhausting, maintaining all of that.”
    balto likes this.
  3. westb

    westb Well known member

    Good article. Thanks for posting it. Yes, this bit rings a loud bell with me as well.

    In many ways, poorer health outcomes for perfectionists aren’t that surprising. “Perfectionists are pretty much awash with stress. Even when it’s not stressful, they’ll typically find a way to make it stressful, .....”

    Who am I if I am not stressed? Who am I if I am not unconsciously expecting the next disaster to strike? There's a lot to unlearn, but happily a lot to discover as well ...
    karinabrown likes this.
  4. andy64tms

    andy64tms Well known member

    Ahh, yes Balto,

    I remember we had a discussion about this, can you believe it was in 2012 six years ago here is the thread:


    Here is the thread that explained how I “discovered”, thanks to SteveO, that I was a severe perfectionist.


    I actually did more journaling on this subject than anything else and guess what I am much, much better, it’s taken about six years to get there and it’s still work in progress. My conclusion: "Perfectionism is a gift to be used wisely", otherwise it's dark side can take you over.:(

    Thanks for posting
    Lainey, balto and karinabrown like this.
  5. karinabrown

    karinabrown Well known member

    Yes Yes Yes,

    Lately think about this. Cause strangly i never saw myself as a perfectionist simply bases on results.. in my eyes i just don’t perform good enough to ‘call myself a perfectionist ‘ because a perfectionist would do so much more and better’
    Realising thinking that i just am being a true perfectionist.. ouch
    andy64tms, Gigalos and westb like this.
  6. balto

    balto Beloved Grand Eagle

    wow, that post were 6 years ago. Can't believe we were involved with the tms community this long.
    I always hope some of my posts were useful to some people. I remember when I was in my darkest hours I was so lonely. There were no books, no tms doctors, and no tms community like this one back then. At time, I thought I would make it out alive. Thanks God for Dr Sarno and Dale Carnegie, I was saved. Right there and then I made a promise to myself that I will try to spread the message as far and wide as I can. I hope that my contribution over the years can steer a few toward the tms light.
    Good luck to all of us.
    gailnyc, Lizzy, Ellen and 5 others like this.
  7. andy64tms

    andy64tms Well known member

    Thanks Balto,

    In our household my perfectionism has become somewhat of a joke. My wife Sheila and I daily toss a QVC Dennis Bosser Teddy Bear
    onto the throw pillows on our bed when bed making. Which ever way he lands is the way he stays all day. I've noticed my lovely wife Sheila
    sometimes straightens him up. This proves my theory that we are all perfectionist, as we are society driven to be so.

    Karina, embrace your perfectionism its a wonderful gift that just needs awareness. Look around at civilization, everything around us is
    perfectionism in view, and is not nature perfect, what a gift we have been given? :)
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2018
    Lainey, westb and karinabrown like this.
  8. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    balto, I think you'd be astonished at the amount of hope, healing and positivity your words have brought people over the years.

    I made a similar pledge myself. It's amazing to see people recover and especially so when they go on to pass it forward. The TMS light is spreading and is a true beacon for people in pain and in darkness.
    Lainey and andy64tms like this.
  9. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Great reflection!!

    Another great observation about self!!

    True. We are blessed to be part of this work of our hearts.

    Thank you all for the great discussion!!
    andy64tms likes this.
  10. karinabrown

    karinabrown Well known member

    i think you all who recovered and give your time and energy to help others now are just the best example that there is also a lot of good in this world. ♥️
    andy64tms, Ellen and plum like this.
  11. BigBlueWolf

    BigBlueWolf Peer Supporter

    This article is spot-on and describes something I've known about myself for a long time. The worst part is when I beat myself up over trivial set-backs. :(
    karinabrown likes this.
  12. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Amen to that sweet Karina. xx
    andy64tms and karinabrown like this.
  13. EileenS

    EileenS Well known member

    Thank you very much for posting this article. It is thought provoking and confirming for me. It is confirming to what I realized about myself years before I had chronic pain or had heard of this site when I was ruminating over a conflict with someone - I'm NOT a perfectionist, but I get influenced and stressed by perfectionists. By nature, I have always been what the author calls 'adaptive perfectionism'. In high school I didn't get stressed over my marks; I worked hard enough to get the marks I needed to get into university without having to work too hard. My bed is often not made, etc.

    I am what Sarno calls a 'goodist' though, so I care about trying to please others. I call it conscientious, which is a word the author uses to describe the adaptive perfectionists. And this is why I'm responding to this thread. A perfectionist doesn't just cause stress and anxiety in themselves, but they can cause it in others. Through my journaling journey, I realized that trying to live up to the expectations of some other people was a big contributor to my chronic pain. Not only could I never achieve their standards, but I internalized it and it caused me to no longer think what I did was good enough.

    So if you are a perfectionist, please go easy on others with your words and body language too.
    andy64tms, Lainey and Ellen like this.
  14. karinabrown

    karinabrown Well known member

    Hi Eileen,

    I am really wondering if they are that different? Not sure
    If you strip’ it all down to the bottom : isn’t it all a form of pleasing?
    The goodist , the perfectionist ? Is it not that deep down we all want the same?
    To feel worthy (hope this is correct english ?) to be loved ?
    Isn’t behind perfectionism just that fact always to ? To fit in , to be loved. to be good enough ?

    Ofcourse always with the question : for who ? Yourself or others
    And like the topic already says : bad for your health , and i believe that too.
  15. EileenS

    EileenS Well known member

    Hi karinabrown. Isn't this what all human beings want though?

    I think personality traits are on a scale of weak to strong and all mix together, but I also think perfectionism and people pleasing are different. I used to have a friend who was the biggest people pleaser I have known, but she wasn't a perfectionist except in trying to please people.

    I can really see the unhealthy perfectionist personality in some people I have known. For example, we have a 30-year-old niece who would give up at things in school if she couldn't quickly be the best at it. I've taken up quilting and this hobby really separates out the perfectionists. Some people in a class spend their time fretting over every detail and worry about what their piece will look like. I figure I'm just learning and no-one will ever look that closely. Another example; I have a friend who stressed herself out over a Christmas gift exchange our group had, wondering if the gift she bought would be liked by the receiver, was she spending enough, was she spending too much,.... I tried to tell her it doesn't matter, it's just for fun. I did realize with my journaling that I had to stop spending so much time with this friend though because I was taking on her anxiety and feeling like I wasn't measuring up. She has perfectionism, wanting to be liked by others, and control all together.

    Something that I have been pondering is, perfectionism vs control. The people I have personally known that I would call perfectionists have conflict with others because they want to control how things are done because they believe they know the best way.
    I don't know. What do you think?
    Lainey and andy64tms like this.
  16. andy64tms

    andy64tms Well known member

    Hi Karinabrown,

    Speaking for myself I think you are absolutely correct. It was lack of love and caring that guided me into perfectionism. I did more journaling on this topic than anything else 5 years ago. I took solace in being alone, in this defensive position I found happiness from making and creating things. I had a natural gift of creativity and I became happy with myself and myself only.
    My character formed to be frightened of people, shyness and sensitivity followed. My whole personality formed around this lack of nurturing from those that were supposed to love me - all my family. My wife says when she met me I was the whipping boy, the one to poke fun at.
    I have forgiven or at least trying to, reasoning they “know not what they did” not inheriting any skills from their parents. At the end of the journaling I realized the gift of perfectionism and made up the saying: “Perfectionism is a gift to be used wisely”.

    Hi Ellien

    Yes, control was a subset of my perfectionism, the conflict is we don’t trust and can do it better than others. So was the bullying I did to Sheila in the 80’s when I was drinking, it was at that time the only defense I knew. Ponder no more.

    Thank goodness for the TMS Help forum, thank goodness for this one.

    I can upload some of my perfectionism notes if you want I am proud of them now. Perfectionism is only dangerous if unchecked.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2018
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  17. andy64tms

    andy64tms Well known member

    I’m so proud of my windsurfing trailer that I built two years ago. It was built with no drawings, no boss, no budget and no time frame. The perfect way to make a totally imperfect trailer, it just didn’t matter it’s just for camping. I just look and see the imperfections and feel soothed. It’s my pride and joy. The most creative thing I have ever designed and made and guess what I get to use it to have fun, I'm cured:).

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 25, 2018
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  18. EileenS

    EileenS Well known member

    Your trailer looks perfect to me. Very cute. When the Amish (or it could be Mennonites) make quilts, they intentionally put a mistake in it as a mark like a signature.
    andy64tms likes this.
  19. karinabrown

    karinabrown Well known member

    To me these details don’t matter that much. Control , pleasing , perfectionisme i think its all low selfasteem. Insecurety. Wanting love
  20. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    Hi Andy
    Read your posts in the forum, your dialogue with SteveO. I just read his book this past year, having read some Sarno books prior to this, in years past. Although I have had TMS issues for many years I had buried myself in my work and was absorbed in a toxic environment for over 15 years. My physical issues worsened, but I carried on. After retiring in 2014 a series of very unpleasant and traumatic events occurred in my life. My body could not take the emotional pain. My inability to control any one of the issues that were occurring only added to my pain and anger, so my pains worsened. I knew I was angry, but for some reason I did not know how to deal with this. Events were out of my control. I decided to reread HBP and in my search for help on the internet discovered references to Steve O and others.

    Steve Os GPD was a great find for me. I read it through once and then after a couple of months reread the book and absorbed more of his wisdom re TMS.

    The first time reading the book I was trying to explain a bit of it to a beloved sibling who was earnestly interested. I began to hyperventilate and then have my breathing begin to shut down (a recent (TMS) phenomena for me). I had to stop explaining to my sister and consciously (with the help of my husband) calm my breathing. I realized that this breathing issue was TMS. My mind was trying to keep me in high anxiety and from understanding. It was a green light moment for me. (although a bit scary for a few minutes).
    I have had my own issues with control, needing to be correct/right, needing to not be ridiculed, needing to be appreciated. I'm not sure about the absolute perfectionism you write of as being my own issue, yet I know how relationship issues could traumatize me and also on the flip side, motivate me.

    Anyway, thanks for your generosity of self.
    BTW Love your new trailer. Congrats.

    andy64tms likes this.

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