Inhuman standards and self-defeating perfectionism are familiar human challenges.
The self-defeating forms of perfectionism are based on absolutistic and unrelenting standards for performance. There is an inner demandingness and drive to this form of compulsive living. It is an enemy of happiness and pleasure and turns simple acts into command performances. Creating inhuman standards for performance can be an exhausting means to prove the value of a self. It is based on a lack of self-acceptance and compulsive defense against feeling.
The challenges that inhuman standards and self-defeating perfectionism create can be witnessed in:
* The creation of lots of stress and cortisol, which can impede immune function and create stress related disorders like ulcers.
* Our lives get caught up in the silly idea of trying to prove ourselves or up our invisible rating as great and noble souls. It's far easier to just accept yourself and tap your own well-springs of love. Why wait for others? People who are trapped by success, status, and having to have lots of material wealth, lose touch with themselves. They chase some junk and lose sight of genuine happiness which is within. It's okay to have stuff and find pleasure in it, but people who live and die by some imaginary and arbitrary status suffer and are often cut off from themselves and their feelings.
*It's a crummy and painful form of motivation that provides little pleasure and turns over the responsibility of your happiness to what others think of you. Even if you are among the rich and famous you can still have people hating your guts and envying your lot in life.
* Perfectionists are under a self-created gun to perform super humanly. This pressure often creates anxiety and poor focus which in turn cramps output and performance. If our image of self is tied to the outcome--the outcome can seem like a desperate trek. The Michael Jordans of the world achieve because of being relaxed and focused. They are turned on by the game. They are absorbed in the game. You simply can't achieve high levels of performance while being conflicted over your status as a super human. If you're hassling with that self-made stress and pressure to perform, you're not going to be in the flow much. Self-defeating perfectionists really limit themselves with their motivations. Compulsion always limits focus.
* Inhuman standards make for unpleasurable work and a lack of reward because the perfectionistic line keeps going outward past accomplishment. Success is really not enjoyed--you always feel as if you must do better.
* We don't relate well with others because we will likely demand superhuman standards from them as well. And when we're caught up in this nonsense we'll be spending an inordinate amount of time at work which keeps us from relating with friends and family. Further people are likely to feel tension and be on guard around us when we have these standards. Folks will be frustrated by our nutty standards.
*Projects often take longer to accomplish because we get caught up in some unnecessary and time consuming details. The repetitive going over and over details that actually worked the first time, but though the filter of inhuman standards forever seems lacking.
*These folks often procrastinate on projects they see as life or death situations.
* Time is often distorted by this compulsive approach to life. Because of an inner commandingness, we never appear to have enough time.
*Life is viewed as a series of unrelenting duties or dark passages.
* Major areas of our life go unattended and we become unbalanced.
* We create the idea of utter perfection. This idea is like a carrot before a donkey--chased but never truly experienced.
* Most of us have varying notions of what constitutes perfection. Few agree on what is great or perfect.
* Utter perfection leaves no room for making mistakes. How do we develop skills without making mistakes? Didn't famous artists and composers make mistakes?
*Creativity is often blocked by inhuman standards.
* People with this challenge may see their mistakes as utter failures instead of learning situations.
* These folks live under the internal whip of absolutistic shoulds and musts.
* They are often involved in the dire hunt for an end result and miss the vital absorption and pleasure in doing because they are so stressed, pressured, and often unfocused.
* Will sometimes be caught up in defensiveness because they fear looking bad.
* They live in all or nothing land where there is no average or middle way.
* Are likely to make love making into a performance to prove their image as being worthy or great. Perfectionists are often impotent.
* Tend to overlook accomplishments and focus on mistakes.
* Studies show that perfectionists are actually less accomplished than non perfectionists.
There's nothing wrong with doing your best, but we better note when we are stepping over the line to superhuman standards.
Some questions for those suffering from the compulsive need to chase superhuman standards:
Why must I be outstanding or special?
Can I accept myself and treat myself in a loving and caring manner irregardless of my accomplishments or lack of them?
How do I become nothing if my performances are not great or perfect?
Can a fallible human ever be perfect?
Where is it written that I must be perfect?
Can I stand it if I don't meet my goals?
Would making errors be hellish? Who creates the hell and the self-flagellation?
How can failing at something magically transform me into being a failure? Don't I have zillions of other qualities and traits at any given moment?
It may help folks with superhuman standards to pay attention to these areas:
* What would life be like with more humane standards?
* Know what the disadvantages are.
* How many hours a week are dedicated to trying to prove a great self-image?
* Notice how others are responding to your quest for super greatness and superiority.
* How might you alter your behavior and time commitments?
* What would it feel like to be released from the extreme bondage of self-slavery? What if this compulsion suddenly evaporated?
* What feelings are being ducked if this quest is a powerful compulsion? Feel the feelings running this compulsive trance.
* What would your life feel like if you lowered your standards by 50%? 80%?
* Check out your memories of how these standards developed. Perhaps in your childhood.
Here is a Personality Cluster for Perfectionism. This cluster gives us a sense that we must meet super standards of performance. In seeking perfection we feel under great pressure and are extremely critical of yourself and others. Through perfectionism we pay too much attention to detail, have too many rigid rules, and are preoccupied with time. Further perfectionism does not allow us to enjoy the rewards of our efforts. Beliefs are:
* I must never make mistakes.
* I must perform perfectly.
* My work is never good enough.
* Others must never make mistakes--they are idiots if they do.
* I'm nothing if I make an error.
* I never do well enough.
* I can't be second best--I must be the best or I'm nothing.
* I must look my best all the time.
* Everything must be in perfect order.
* There is so much to be done that I can never relax.
* I must always do way better--what I've done is nothing.
* I must finish everything even if I find it's no longer important.
* I must drive myself hard--more is expected of me.
* Every detail must be complete and perfect or I'm nothing.
* My relationships must come last because I must do a perfect job.
* My standards are more important than health and pleasure.
* I should endlessly criticize myself for any error.
* I must compete and win at all costs.
* Money, position, and status are extremely important--without them I am worthless.
* Anything less than being number one is a disgrace.
These can be targets for processing.
Take care, Steve