If you miss the mark on something, do you accuse yourself of not being good enough and ruminate on it for days? Do you compare your life to others and think you’re not as smart, pretty, fit, or happy enough? Do you feel like you must be 100% perfect 100% of the time?
Perfectionism largely affects women because we are more likely than men to experience feelings of inadequacy at home and work. And, it gets worse. For example, studies suggest that most women only apply for a job when they feel they have 100% of the qualifications, while men apply when having met only 50%.
Perfectionism can cause anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and even eating disorders. Perfectionism starts at an early age and is a huge problem for young girls and women in America. Sadly, over 65% of high school girls are on a diet to lose weight.
Janice, a director of communications, summed it up; “I had to get off social media. It was getting to the point where I thought it was damaging my health. I deleted my Instagram and Facebook accounts because I would get depressed when I saw friends who looked better than me or were doing amazing things in life. The pressure to be perfect was at the heart of my depression. I am educated with a good perspective on life, but it was killing me to see so many of my friends living perfect lives. I was feeling worthless and isolated compared to them.”
So how do we combat our need to be perfect? Many psychologists advise that it’s important for a woman to know that it’s one thing to be her best and another to be perfect. If you suffer from life’s perfectionistic curse, do a simple reality check. Take stock of your life and ask yourself if you constantly try to be perfect all the time. If so, study why this may be happening and think about some strategies to overcome your need to be perfect. And finally, make a habit of adopting the words “pretty good” into your mental vocabulary.
About Your Columnist
Dr. Marilou Ryder is a featured columnist for Women Lead, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence. The author of the bestselling Sister to Sister Series, Marilou has been on the front line of the changing nature of women in the workplace. Through her writing, speaking, and research, she galvanizes women to summon their best selves to approach life’s challenges by accessing their personal power.