Thought of the Day: Perfectionism

Perfectionism (3)

Happy Sunday everyone 🙂 How has your week been so far? My week felt pretty slow with nothing happening exciting at work, apart from Wednesday morning, Dr Eziefula presented an introduction to perfectionism which I have leveraged for today’s long Sunday read on the Pineapple Chicken Blog 🙂 I do not know much about perfectionism from a clinical psychological perspective and the potential impact it can have on our mental health; so I thought why not do a little more research and share what I have learnt too? You might want to grab your tea/coffee before we begin… 

What is perfectionism?

A simple dictionary definition for perfectionism is the refusal to accept any standard short of perfection. This is pretty simple to understand and probably what most of think perfectionism is. We all have our own standards on what we do or expect and a perfectionism likes it to be “perfect”.

In clinical psychology, however, it differs and perfectionism is defined as a personality trait characterised by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high-performance standards, accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.

Two sides of perfectionism

Perfectionism is a personality trait that is multidimensional, where it can be positive and negative. Personally, I think everyone can be a bit of a perfectionist. The concept of “perfect” would differ for everyone but wanting things to be of a certain “standard” is something we can all relate to. For example, you want a piece of work to be “perfect” before presenting it to your peers. However, using this simple example, perfectionism can easily become a negative trait if “perfect” is an unrealistic goal or unattainable meaning you are spending hours and hours making the presentation beautiful and stressing out over minute details; possibly even missing the deadline because one couldn’t “let go”.

Positive

Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfection is not about healthy achievement and growth – Brené Brown

From my research, I get the sense that perfectionism is not a positive trait to have should not be confused with the desire to obtain excellence. Obtaining excellence is a positive trait to have, as it helps to motivate people to reach their goals and when they reach that goal, then there is a feeling of satisfaction. Unlike perfectionism, the desire for excellence is the desire to do the very best possible, not the quest for the unobtainable.

Negative

Following from above, it means that perfectionism is a negative trait to have. Individuals caught up in perfectionistic thinking or behaviour commonly experience significant personal distress as well as chronic health and emotional problems. Such individuals can also provoke extremely negative reactions from others due to their unrealistically high standards and quest to avoid failure and rejection.

Perfectionism is the belief that unless I am perfect, then I am not okay. This belief is driven by fear, mainly the fear of failure. To me, the pursuit of perfection seems extremely stressful and it is not surprising that it can be a cause of depression. It can also cause anger as well because you are always frustrated at yourself, as you are never good enough.

Dr Eziefula  mentioned that it is possible for perfectionists to be extreme procrastinators, because they are too worried about being perfect – or planning to be perfect that they don’t want to tackle the issue at hand; or if they know they won’t be the best or perfect at the task, they rather not do the task at all. 

In its most extreme form, perfectionism can become like an obsession and manifest into Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (“OCD”), where everything has to be completely organised, idea that “a place for everything and everything in its place” rings true to these individuals. Prior to the presentation at work, I was reading a heart-wrenching account of how beauty became a perfectionist’s obsession. It was a great insight into how perfectionism can manifest itself and negatively impact an individual’s wellbeing; I highly recommend the post.

Are you a perfectionist?

From the presentation and my readings, the one question that I always had at the back of my mind was whether I was a perfectionist? I found a few quizzes and but, as always you should take the below with a pinch of salt. Regardless, I used the quizzes and the other websites as a guide for personal reflection.

  • Perfectionism test
    • A quite detailed questionnaire and analysis with a breakdown of potential strengths and limitations. Took me about 5 minutes to complete and you can pay for a full report (but I didn’t)
  • Perfectionism
    • I found this to be a good guide to perfectionism if you wanted more detail that is not covered in this post.
  • 11 Signs of a Perfectionist
    • Rather simplistic but a good starting point.

Tips

There is a myriad of posts that provide tips to help with perfectionism. However, from my research and understanding the potential detrimental impact on mental health, if you think you perfectionism is impacting you, I would encourage you to see a specialist first. In spite of this, below are a few tips that I have chosen are good to follow, and not just to tackle perfectionism.

  •  Set realistic expectations – The focus should be on one thing at a time and setting goals that may be “stretching” but attainable. When they are unrealistic, it is demotivating, or worse – self-destructive. I have learnt that goals/objectives should follow the SMART model. Try it out for yourself!

http://www.j6design.com.au/setting-smart-goals/

  • Take time for yourself – I have always preached this. Turn off that computer/put that pen down and listen to your true needs and how to meet those needs. Take time for self-care and be kind to yourself because you are important and worthy!
  • Take a step back – Consider the tradeoffs between making something “perfect” and using that time and energy for something else. Take a step back and ask yourself: what is more important in the grand scheme of things?
  • Perspective – Once you have taken a step back, take a step forward. There are plenty of small steps that, were you to take them, would help move your life forward. Don’t excuse yourself from doing them because the conditions aren’t right or because a better opportunity might come along soon. Do what you can, now. And when you’ve done it, keep it in perspective and be pleased with the result because by looking back you will see how far you have come.
  • Ask yourselves these questions:
    • What am I spending most of my time and energy on right now?
    • Am I doing this because I want to, or because I’m trying to compete with or please someone else?
    • Is what I’m doing making me feel worthy and valuable? If not, how can I stop doing it?
    • Am I doing what I said I would do to reach my goals? If not, is my goal too big or perfectionistic? How can I make it more reasonable?
    • Are my actions more in line with who I want to be today than they were yesterday?

The Pursuit of Good Enough

If perfection an illusion, if this is the case then why do we continue to pursue it? It is okay to be good enough? Haversat discusses this in her  TED talk and uses some key examples we see today in politics. She focuses on compromise and refers to Voltaire’s statement – “Perfect is the enemy of the good”. Worth a watch!

On your 80th Birthday

Dr Eziefula’s presentation ended with an open question and I will pose this to you to end this blog post.

On your 80th birthday, what would you want people to describe you as?

  • The person that answered all emails on time? 
  • Amazingly beautiful presentations? 
  • Beautiful/Perfect – not a hair out of place? 
  • Someone who lived by their values? 
  • Someone who built a legacy

I don’t have an answer to the question, just yet, but I know which direction I want to go.

With Sweet & Sour Love, 

Pineapple Chicken

P.S. I hope you found this post helpful, as always, I would love to hear from you!

Thoughts of the Day: Boredom

Boredom

Hi everyone!

Did you all have a good weekend so far? I hope you are up for another long Sunday (night) read on the Pineapple Chicken blog. Today, I wanted to discuss boredom – it is an odd topic but please bear with me on this one 🙂 Earlier this week, I spent the better of last weekend and which dragged out to the remainder of the week in bed after catching a really bad cold that manifested itself into a horrible chesty cough. (I apologise for the superlatives, but honestly, I hate being ill).

Though I should have been resting in bed and recovering, I found myself extremely bored and growing ever restless. I felt guilty that I wasn’t using my downtime properly and doing something more productive. In my semi-delirious state, I thought I should try and understand what boredom really is and why do I feel bored? Should boredom be considered as something negative? 

What is boredom? 

“Bored” as defined in the dictionary is “feeling weary and impatient because one is unoccupied or lacks interest in one’s current activity.” It is interesting that the definition also associates boredom with negative feelings, I would personally also associate boredom with restlessness and frustration.

I think Grant Faulkner wonderfully describes boredom in this article as an incessant need for stimulation – I have a tic, an affliction, a virus. When a moment of emptiness descends upon me, I reach for my phone, tap it madly, and hope to find stimulation…My brain craves novelty and stimulation, and I’m caught in a loop of compulsive neediness.

Why do we feel bored?

Though it may be potentially simple to define boredom, there is a lot more literature around why one feels bored and try to explain the underlying causes. Gustavo Razzetti explains boredom as the following, but I find it difficult to agree with. Personally, life is not always about giving more because let’s face it – that can be so tiring at times! 

“We feel bored because, deep inside ourselves, we know we can give more. Boredom is the pain of unused potential; it’s a disconnection to everything we can offer the world and vice versa.”

There is one train of thought that boredom has come from over-stimulation referring back to Grant Faulkner above, it is this constant need to fill in “gaps” with your phone but ultimately you never get satisfied. I agree with this statement more because I have not found myself bored if I am reading a good book, blogging or trying to meditate (and still trying very hard). Yet, I can feel bored whilst just looking at my phone to browse social media or try to find something interesting on Netflix.

Others have tried to explain the cause of boredom is because we find it hard having fun with our own company. I only partially agree with this, I love going to museums, galleries, and bookstores etc. on my own. I love solitude (from time to time) and I think it is important for my wellbeing. However, I agree with the opinion because when I was at home ill, I needed company and stimulating conversation; which also drove my boyfriend nuts as I was just being needy! I did try and do something productive like finishing my book. Honestly, my brain was just not up to it, so instead, I ended up binge-watching Netflix which seemed to make me even more bored! Was I facing the dilemma below? 

“We crave for more time. However, when we have free time, we don’t know what to do with it. Nothing seems exciting enough to deserve our valuable time. We end up doing nothing and get bored.”

Is boredom all the bad?

Why is boredom seen as such a negative thing? It implies that we are unappreciative of the world and what it has to offer, like the age-old saying – only boring people get bored? As one writer explained his experience when he was growing up – he had “exhausted the world of possibilities”. That is pretty harsh! I understand the sentiment that when one is learning, you shouldn’t be bored because there the world is a magical place and there is always something to learn/interest someone. Though there are definitely counter-arguments to this, I mean, who are they to say that the kid isn’t just the next entrepreneur. 

Whatever it is, boredom is a state of mind, just like sadness and happiness; therefore, should we really be categorising it into something that is negative or positive?

Others have said that boredom is a sign of laziness– savage! If boredom is just a state of mind, then it can be changed; i.e. you are not happy about something, change it! Let’s be honest, it is easier said than done. Should we not just be kind to ourselves from time to time and also recognise that we are imperfect and just human, with a myriad of emotions and thoughts?

Is it okay to be bored?  

To turn the argument on its head, is boredom really as bad for us? Do we have to constantly be productive? Others have put a lot of thought into this, particularly in this article

Sandi Mann, a psychologist, conducted an experiment to further understand emotions in the workplace in the 1990s. She found that “People who are bored think more creatively than those who aren’t.” Others have described that boredom can be a powerful tool that invites you to rethink your relationship with the world. Potentially my boredom in the sick bed created the right connections in my brain to write and research this topic (maybe, just maybe :)). A wonderfully light-hearted TED talk yet inspiring talk by Manoush Zomorodi on “How boredom can lead to your most brilliant ideas”. She has also written a book – “Bored and Brilliant” which I think will be going on the to-read list! Have any of you read the book? 

Her video was part of a playlist on TED talks to discuss “Why it is sometimes good to be bored”. So if you have time, I really recommend taking the time to have a listen to the various talks, maybe it may inspire you to embrace boredom and think of it as something positive and good for the mind. 

Parting tips

It is surprising how much is written on boredom and how it is a multi-dimensional topic with various views. Thank you for sticking with me to the end of this blog post! 

I am going to be kind to myself (as I always am lol!) and I think it is okay to be bored, I do not see it as a negative feeling and think we should embrace a wandering mind. However, I do think that replacing boredom with more stimulus such as YouTube videos or Netflix is the one thing we should be avoiding. Though, I recognise that there are days when mindless videos are just what you need. I want to start off with baby steps, so before I pick up my phone or TV remote, I am going to try a few of the tips below and I would love to know if they work for you!

Tips for boredom

  • Avoid technology when you feel bored – entertainment snacks will make you crave for more; rather than controlling your boredom, your need for distraction will never be satisfied. Hence, my binge-watching of Netflix from time to time.
  • Recover the joy of mundane tasks – when was the last time you wash the dishes and just allowed yourself to be present at the moment thinking of nothing else? Recovering the pleasure of doing small tasks may build a sense of achievement. I found that KonMari/tidying up is a good thing to do when I am bored.
  • Let your mind wander – when you find yourself bored, why not pick up a pen or paper and just let your mind wander. See where it leads you, let your mind feed on your own thoughts. It could potentially lead you down a creative path.

As always, I would love to hear from you about your thoughts on boredom, so please do leave a comment below!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken

Thought of the Day: Interdependence

Hi Everyone!

How’s it going? Since it is the weekend, you know you are in for a long read on the Pineapple Chicken Blog; so please sit back and relax with a hot drink 🙂 Today’s thought of the day is the concept of interdependence. This follows nicely from my previous blog about change and how I am trying to understand/look at my current relationship from a different perspective.

What is interdependence?

I started reading “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey, admittedly, I have not gotten very far as I am finding it quite a difficult read, or possibly I am not in the right mindset for it? I might have to give up and try something else before going back to it. However, before I give up, I wanted to consider the concept of interdependence introduced in the book.

Covey explains that there is a Maturity Continuum which starts at

  1. Dependence – needing others to get what you want. This is the attitude of “you” – you take care of me, I need you.
  2. Independence – free from external influence and support. This is the attitude of “I”. I can take care of myself. I don’t need you.

The third and highest level in the Maturity Continuum is interdependence. … We live in an interdependent reality. Interdependence is essential for good leaders; good team players; a successful marriage or family life; in organisations. Interdependence is the attitude of “we”: we can co-operate; we can be a team; we can combine our talents. – Stephen Covey

Why is it so important yet so difficult?

I recognise that interdependence can be very difficult, it is often easy to revert back to the stage of independence because it is SO MUCH easier to manage one’s emotions and expectations; being selfish and not having to take into consideration someone’s feelings is a freedom. Regardless of how difficult it is, research shows that “Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.” – Robert Waldinger (see video below). Therefore, the data suggests that it definitely worth investing time into relationships. What holds me back is that is is a lot of hard work, but why is this the case?

Alfred Adler, a world-renowned philosopher and psychiatrist, stressed the need to understand individuals within their social context. He recognised that:

All Problems are Interpersonal Relationship Problems

This is definitely extreme, to say the least, but it does put the focus on the difficulty of moving up the maturity continuum. If you really think about it, what negatively impacts you the most? For me, a fight with my sister or my boyfriend has a significant impact on my positivity and wellbeing. There have been times where it is all I can focus on, regardless of how busy I am at work or have other things to do to distract me – it can be all-consuming.

Another book I started reading (and yet to finish) is The Courage To Be Disliked: How to free yourself, change your life and achieve real happiness by Ichiro Kishimi & Fumitake Koga. This was the book that first introduced me to Adler and the theories resonated with me. For those who interested, there are bloggers who have also neatly summarised his theories.

What can I do?

I mean it is all well and good knowing that interpersonal relationships are important yet difficult. What can we do about it? What should I work on to have a happier relationship with others? I think a lot of it boils down to emotional intelligence. ( This topic is important/large enough to have its own future blog post!)

Alder states that you must separate your “life tasks” and do not get it mixed up with others. If you can’t control what other people think of you, why worry about it? For me, this seems to slip back into the concept of independence, which is at odds with what Stephen Covey encourages. Alder also believes that it is important to work on “self-worth” before being able to contribute to others.

Adler’s three pillars: Self-acceptance, confidence in others, and contribution to others reinforce each other in a positive feedback loop

I have yet to finish Stephen Covey’s book and interdependence is tackled under habits 4 to 6 out of the 7, as the first three also works on the “self” – you starting to see the loop?

  • Habit 4 – Win/Win
  • Habit 5 – Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
  • Habit 6 – Synergize

I am going to keep working at these habits and let you know how it goes. A great summary can be found here if you want to skip the book and straight to the key learnings.

Thank you for making it to the end. I would be interested to know whether you are familiar with Stephen Covey’s book or Alder’s theories, as always, I would love to hear from you and your experiences, so please do leave a comment below 🙂

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x