If you struggle with perfectionism, the looks of peace and relaxation that you see on people’s faces in commercials for Hallmark’s newest Christmas movie are something you’ll never understand. You may be told that the holidays are a time to enjoy “the things that matter” with family and friends, but who has the time?! You’re too stressed out searching yet another Buzzfeed list in search for that “perfect present for the pickiest man on your list,” or running to the craft store yet again for the perfect touch to put on your 22 personalized, handmade gifts you’ll give to everyone in the office, or whipping up another practice batch of your trademark cookies just to be sure no one will be disappointed at your family party.
If you can relate to any of this, then your perfectionism might be flaring up this holiday season. If you live with perfectionism every day, then you probably already have a good idea of how damaging it can be to your life. It’s not the cute, perky disorder of the uber-organized person, as some people imagine it. It’s a force that keeps you from living in the present and enjoying the moments you want to enjoy.
As you work on taking care of yourself this holiday season, keep in mind these 4 important ways that perfectionism will bring you down unless you have a plan to combat it.
Perfectionism can stop you from participating.
A lot of people have the false idea that perfectionists are people who always got A’s in school or who are working their up to the top of the ladder at work through their impressive displays of hard work. Often, though, people who are really suffering from perfectionism have just the opposite effect in their lives – they do mediocre or even badly when it comes to their responsibilities. This is because perfectionists are so overwhelmed at the thought of doing something wrong that they often choose not to do it at all. They find ways to keep procrastinating longer and longer, until one day they realize they simply missed their chance to complete the task. If you let this part of yourself take control over the holidays, then you might miss out on some genuinely fun opportunities.
Perfectionism can mess with your priorities.
For most people who experience perfection during the holidays, they have so much anxiety in the first place because they want to contribute in the best way possible to their loved ones having a good holiday season. They therefore put enormous pressure on themselves to get the best presents or live up to previous years’ traditions. The result of all of this pressure, paradoxically, is that it becomes impossible to enjoy the very things that you were trying to make enjoyable for others. When the goal is to be perfect instead of to enjoy the company of loved ones, you’ll find that you won’t achieve either, and you won’t be able to see the forest for the trees.
Perfectionism can lead to feelings of disappointment.
The holidays will never be as good as the sparkling image in a perfectionist’s head. If you allow yourself to form such huge expectations, you’re inevitably setting yourself up for a fall. This is a particularly significant problem during this time of year because the potential for feelings of loneliness or depression are already heightened over the holidays. You may already be dealing with missing a loved one who’s passed away, mourning a relationship that ended, or any number of other things. These events are outside of your control, but perfectionism is something that you can address if you’re aware of it and take steps to help yourself.
Perfectionism can rob the people around you of their joy.
Perfectionist stress can become like a palpable feeling in the air. When friends or family who spend time with you can feel that you’re a ball of anxiety, then you’re going to affect not only your own life but theirs as well. This is especially true if have a family you live with or, for that matter, anyone you live with; feelings of stress and anxiety can spread very easily in a household from one person to the next. You may think that others don’t pick up on the anxiety you feel inside, but rest assured that they do.
If you can identify that you’re a perfectionist, though, then the good news is you’ve already taken the important first step. Once you can name it and see it in yourself, you’re on the road to change.
If your perfectionism isn’t debilitatingly bad, then there are little things you can do to remind yourself to ease up on your high expectations over the holidays. Practice a self-care routine daily. Doing something every day that’s purely for you will be a good reminder that your life during this season isn’t all about performing perfection. Make sure that you’re getting enough rest. Perfectionists will often stay up long hours of the night to try to make their unrealistic goals a reality, but the sleep deprivation will only serve to make you more off your game and miserable. Volunteer in some way. Spending time working on behalf of others will help you remember the real purpose behind the season that your perfectionism may be driving you to forget.
If your perfectionism is more advanced, though, then you should seriously consider consulting a therapist. The problem isn’t likely to get better during the stressful holiday season, so you should take steps to help yourself before it gets worse.
If you’re interested in finding out more about getting help with symptoms of perfectionism in your life, you can call us at (305) 501-0133 or click here to schedule a free 20-minute Clarity Consult .