Is Perfectionism Ruining Your Holidays
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 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. You do all this to make 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, 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 fundamental ways perfectionism will bring you down unless you plan to combat it.
Perfectionism can stop you from participating.
Many people have the false idea that perfectionists are people who always got A’s in school or are working their way up the top of the ladder 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 worse 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. Perfectionists also miss out on trying new things in fear of being bad at it. Perfectionists play it safe and take little to no risks. Suppose you let this part of yourself take control over the holidays. In that case, you might miss out on some genuinely fun opportunities.
Perfectionism can mess with your priorities.
Most people who experience perfectionism during the holidays have anxiety because they want their loved ones to have 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 this pressure, paradoxically, is that it becomes impossible to enjoy the very things 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. 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. Perfectionists set extremely high standards not just for themselves but for others. If your family doesn’t act a certain way, you may feel disappointed and even angry.
This is a particularly significant problem during this time of year because the potential for loneliness or depression is 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 you have family you live with or, for that matter, anyone you live with. Feelings of stress and anxiety can spread very quickly 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 they do.
Suppose you can identify that you’re a perfectionist, though. In that case, the good news is you’ve already taken the essential first step. Once you can name it and see it in yourself, you’re on the road to change.
How to put your perfectionism at ease
If your perfectionism isn’t debilitatingly destructive, 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 perfectly.
Make sure that you’re getting enough rest. Perfectionists will often stay up long hours of the night to make their unrealistic goals a reality. Still, 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. Your perfectionism may be driving you to forget.
Manage your expectations. Set realistic goals for yourself and others. When the bar isn’t set too high, you may be delighted instead of let down or annoyed.
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.
Envision Wellness is a private practice that offers psychotherapy, psychological testing, and life coaching in Miami, FL. Our team has a passion for helping others achieve happy, fulfilling, and change-making lives that make the world a better place. Each therapist has their areas of expertise. Not sure who you’d like to work with? Click here to schedule a free 20-minute phone consult to help you decide.
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