Experiencing fear and anxiety every now and then is a part of life, it helps us to respond to threat; however it becomes an issue when it is chronic, continuous and negatively impacting on our lives. What fear does is to create an emotional and physical paralysis that will hinder us from taking action and achieving our goals; it also leads to self-sabotage. Fear is generated when a negative association is made with a stimulus that triggers the fear. Continuous association of fear with an environment or situation and stimulus can create ‘fear conditioning’ which brings up the feeling of fear in similar situation even if the stimulus is no longer present (Keverne and Curley, 2008). Perception and self-doubt plays a huge part in creating fear. We must not let fear stop us from moving forward. Fear can also be a sign of growth and that we are being stretched out of our comfort zone in which case we should feel the fear and still move forward regardless.
How can we overcome fear?
- Getting the facts about a situation and not focus on assumptions
- Analyse all potential outcomes
- Facing the fear and moving forward
- Think more positively
- Check in on what the fear is telling you –you could be growing!
Perfectionism involves setting unrelenting, inflexible and unrealistic high standards for one’s self. Everything has to be perfect at all times. It involves constantly putting pressure on one’s self to attain very high standards and this in the long run affect how we feel about ourselves. There is nothing wrong in setting and achieving goals or the pursuit of excellence; it becomes a problem if this is negatively impacting on mental or emotional wellbeing.
Can anything be really a 100% perfect? Is the strive for perfection worthwhile? Paradoxically, research has shown that the strive for perfectionism actually impedes performance. The more focused you are on wanting to be perfect the less you will perform. This also affects emotional wellbeing and thinking and attaching self-worth only to performance or achievements. Perfectionism also leads to procrastination for fear of not wanting to do anything less than perfect.
Some causes of perfectionism relate to people’s perception of themselves and the world around them. Early life experiences or how people are brought up can lead to the development of perfectionism. For example, direct learning –positive reinforcement or praise for achievement or criticism or punishment for not doing well. Indirect learning – a child may not be directly punished but simply ignored if they only attain B grades which leads to the belief that the parents are only happy when they get A grades. Modelling-Sometimes parents may also unintentionally model perfectionism through their own behaviour and attitudes. Temperament – the characteristic way people think, react or behave can also play a role. People who are nervous of novelty, dependent on others for reward and who persist with goals in the face of exhaustion or frustration may be more likely to develop perfectionism.
Perfectionists engage in a range of unhealthy behaviours in order to ensure that they maintain the high standard they set for themselves. Some of these behaviours are procrastinating, avoidance, excessive checking, reassurance seeking, overcompensating repeating and correcting, excessive organising and list making, difficulty making decisions, giving up too soon, not knowing when to stop, correcting, slowness, failure to delegate, hoarding, attempts to change the behaviour of others.
Changing perfectionism involves changing how you act, think and feel about yourself.
How can we overcome the perfectionism trap?
- Setting realistic goals
- Change your self-talk and the way you feel
- Define what is good enough or acceptable
- Knowing when to stop
Simply put, procrastination is when you make an intentional decision for no valid reason to put off or delay or not complete the task or goals that you have committed to. You leave the things that you should be focusing on right now to doing other things that you enjoy and perhaps less important despite there be a negative consequence for not following through on your commitment.