Perfectionism may show up in many areas of life in different forms and degrees. At first, there’s the belief that perfectionism is a wonderful self motivation tool that will help us better ourselves. Then, it gives us a strong illusion of control over self and the environment. Towards the end, it affects the way we think, live and enjoy life. Deep inside us a never ending battle begins: fear, shame and stress take over, and feelings of unfulfillment and unhappiness prevail no matter what.
In reality, perfectionism is “Self abuse to the highest degree”. I insist, do read this again please: Self abuse to the highest degree.
Since self image is the idea one has of one’s appearance, abilities, and personality, our image of perfection is the reason we reject ourselves. Self abuse comes from having an image of what it means to be perfect and never being able to measure up to that ideal.
Perfectionism and shame lead to psychological self abuse by affecting the way we think about ourselves (self image) and the world around us; physical self abuse in over-exercise, drastic unhealthy diets or eating disorders; and spiritual self abuse in strong feelings of unworthiness and frustration for lack of willpower. Perfectionism can only limit and constrict, it could never provide growth.
Perfectionism and shame always go hand in hand. When a person is asking too much of herself without any compassion, the –I’m not good enough– belief unavoidably establish itself inside her head. It is the reason why we don’t accept ourselves the way we are, and why we don’t accept others the way they are. A life style that often leaves us in suffering.
The perfectionism-self negative image issue affects not only the way we look at life but sooner or later it affects our health too. It is a fact that this issue produces stress which leads to hormonal imbalance, weight issues, metabolism and immunity problems, mood changes, imbalanced diets, binging, guilt, shame, food deprivation, heart conditions, etc. In order to take care of ourselves it is necessary to identify and accept perfectionism and then, start to eliminate all practices and habits that support it.
Healing perfectionism and self image is not just a decision, it is a journey and it’s a journey that seldom happens alone. It requires patience, perseverance and support but most of all it needs kindness. This journey, although not easy, is essential to physical, spiritual and emotional health and happiness. As a rehabilitated perfectionist, believe me, I know.
Choose to be kind and grateful.