Be Perfectly Depressed Or Imperfectly Happy

Demands on the modern woman are multi-faceted and sometimes beyond human capabilities.

The concept of success in this day and age is being able to do it all, and look good while doing it.

This mindset often develops into perfectionism in many individuals, causing one to think that anything below a 10 is failure.

Everyday Health helps explain in more detail how this is defined:

Perfectionism is a trait that causes us to find comfort in order. When it is overused as a way to cope with anxiety or stress, it can have serious consequences. For example, perfectionists have a deep need to “get it right” and as a result it can interfere with relationships and opportunities in life. It can especially make your relationship with yourself difficult.”

In an age where women feel they have something to prove, the goal of perfection is contributed to a decline in mental health.

There are many studies linking depression and perfectionism. However, the cause for depression in a perfectionist has been debated.

Putting demands on yourself that are unrealistic, or that are constantly causing you to push yourself with no reprieve, creates a mental strain that is hard to manage.

A writer for Scary Mommy writes about how she turned into a perfectionist, and how that affects her daily life:

In hopes of living up to my family’s wildest dreams, I grew into a perfectionist and adopted a “second place is just the first loser” mentality at a young age.

Even now, when I look at how my life has panned out, I feel like I missed the bar. I’m a graduate who doesn’t use her degree, a young mother of one (with another on  the way), and a less-successful-than-I’d-like career. I feel like I’ve let everyone down. With that comes moments of debilitating sadness and feelings of failure. I’ve done “okay” things, but I’m not sure I accomplished the accolades my family deserved from me.”

Being a mom and a perfectionist can be doubly debilitating. Children add an element of chaos, and unpredictability to life; this is what makes parenting so exciting.

For a perfectionist who feels it is necessary to be in control, have everything in order, and accomplish more than “other moms”, never meeting that standard can make you feel that you are failing and unsuccessful.

The fact of the matter is, motherhood is a huge accomplishment in and of itself.

You brought a child into the world and are giving of yourself everyday to provide love and care to a little human being who can’t do much for you or themselves.

While Newsweek points out that “perfectionist may be more susceptible to depression”, it is also brought to attention that there is something that can be done to prevent such an outcome.

Research published in PLoS One found that perfectionists with self-compassion were less depressed.

Having a high standard is not a bad thing. Setting goals is productive and healthy, keeping us on track in a busy, hectic world.

Psychologist David Burns wrote in a 1980 Psychology Today essay:

The perfectionist] acknowledges that his relentless standards are stressful and somewhat unreasonable, but he believes they drive him to levels of excellence and productivity he could never attain otherwise.”

Kristin Neff , a researcher at the University of Texas, reported to Newsweek that “The problem is when you beat yourself up when you don’t meet your standards.”

How do you not beat yourself up when you feel you have failed yourself and your loved ones?

Set realistic and limited goals for yourself to do each day that puts you in a position for success.

Instead of a to-do list consisting of cleaning the house and taking your child to the playground for an hour, try a list that has cleaning the main bathroom and providing some outdoor time for your child.

And if you don’t get to cleaning the bathroom because your child didn’t sleep well the night before, and wants to let you know by throwing anything not nailed down throughout the day, cut yourself some slack.

A study by the University of Washington, as reported by the Huffington Post, discovered that:

“..moms who thought they could easily juggle their work and home lives showed greater levels of depression symptoms than women who acknowledged that they’d have to make sacrifices in one area for the other.”

It’s important to know that no one person can do it all. Everyone is fallible and has limitations; physical and mental.

Allow life to be messy and imperfect sometimes, and you will be liberated from a force that was holding your mental stability hostage.

Striving for something better keeps you moving forward in life, but don’t mistake what that “better” looks like; and there is nothing short of amazing becoming a mother, wife, and friend.

Please let us know in the comments section if you have struggled with perfectionism, and if you have found a way to deal with it in a healthy way.




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