Anxiety and Perfectionism – what’s the link?
When I started to help people with anxiety I started seeing certain similarities. Some physical; breath, posture, tension patterns, some similarities in thinking, fear of the future, planning negative futures, language patterns etc, and it seems that there are even certain personality traits that often go together.
I noticed that quite often people with ‘perfectionism’ seem to be quite anxious. Now what’s interesting here is that you can be a perfectionist and not be anxious. And in the same way you can have anxiety and not have perfectionism. But often they are present together.
So what is it about perfectionism that links to anxiety – fear and worry?
What is actually at the core of perfectionism is a belief that there is a right, a perfect way. But it’s not just this need for things to be perfect but what would or could happen if things that you did were less than perfect? What would that make you, how would you look?, how would you feel, what would others think or say?
Perfectionism is a double edged sword. On the one hand it helps people work harder and harder and as a result they become more skilled and generally way more effective, but it also comes at a cost of a lot of stress. This effects the body mind relationship and your health negatively and this also affects your day to day wellbeing. Because you are working so hard and, often, not from a place of wanting to, but because of being compelled to do so. A compulsive desire that is often unconscious and leads to no lasting satisfaction. Since even when the job is done, it’s quite possibly not perfect.
This reminds me of a time, about seven years ago, when I worked with a lot of personal trainers. I used to ask clients what was the most important thing in their lives. Every one of these trainers said that it was success. Yet every one of them who seemed to be achieving from the outside, was actually living with quite a bit of inner discomfort; as they never felt successful. They key reason being that all defined success in the same way – to be the best that they could be. But they never felt that they had actually attained their absolute best. Why? Because they always though they could have done just a little bit more.
Often we seek the unattainable. We judge things too harshly and set standards that make us feel terrible because they are near impossible to reach. And if we do reach them, we quickly set another goal or task and get lost in this cycle. Over time this builds up – we can only store so much stress in our bodies and minds before we get sick. It is believed that between 60 and 90 percent of doctors’ visits are stress related, and anxiety is often one of the first stressors to appear.
We help people resolve anxiety and we do this in a drug free holistic way. We help people remove their negative thinking patterns and replace them with healthy ones. We work with the nervous system and calm it down, turning off the fight or flight that seems to be always on.
Lots of people think that perfectionism is part of their hard wiring or personality and therefore permanent and I can tell you from working with enough people that this is not the case. Often it is a manifestation of other things. And working the way we do – when we help people live a life free of the need to try and make things perfect, this opens up a new freedom.