The Pros and Cons of Being a Perfectionist
Setting the Standard: What is Perfectionism?
As we wrote in our previous article ‘How Much of a Perfectionist are you?’, perfectionists tend to feel that nothing they ever do is good enough; that they need to work unrelentingly in a bid to better themselves, or else there’ll be negative consequences. If a perfectionist feels he/she is not meeting the high standards they hold for themselves, they will often experience distress or inner unrest which can affect negatively their mood or result in anxiety.
With this description perfectionism sounds like a really unpleasant, unwanted trait. So why do so many of us personify it? Well, as behavioural psychology tells us, everything we do is done because we believe it will be of benefit to us (or it has benefitted us somehow in the past) - and perfectionism is no different. The perfectionistic thoughts described above breed by definition an intense drive to perform well, and their continued presence in our lives can be put down to the successes and external validation (who doesn’t love compliments?!) this increased drive once brought us.
Another 6 apps that boost your mental health
Mental well-being and inner balance are not a luxury. They are a necessity. In a world of constant worrying, being busy, commuting, changing and adjusting, we need some stability, and that’s something that needs to come from within.
So, we continued our research on applications that you can install on your mobile phone and that can help you find more inner peace and become more mindful within your environment. In our previous article, we shared 6 apps that boost mental health, and here we continue with another 6 (there are a lot, indeed, so we had to choose wisely).
6 apps that boost your mental health
Technology has often been blamed as the villain of the contemporary world, bringing more trouble and threats than help and comfort to our once-peaceful-and-simple life.
For example, smartphones. We spend so much time in front of our screens, looking forward to getting a “like” or a reaction from our followers, to see how our friends are spending their time and how much fun they are having, as well as comparing our body, our friends, our holidays and our happiness with theirs.
The result? We feel like we will never be as good as them, have as much fun as them, be as loved as them, and so on. Yes, it is true that smartphones have been blamed for giving us a lot of trouble since they were invented, from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) to panic attacks or even to making us feel depressed.
Are smartphones just bad news? Are they nothing more than a way to feel miserable about ourselves? One could say it all depends on the way you look at it…
“Listen to your gut”, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this”
These are everyday sayings which actually refer to the concept "psychosomatic symptoms". So what exactly are they?
The word ‘psychosomatic’ combines two ancient Greek phrases. ‘Psyche’, the Greek for soul, is commonly seen in words like psychologist, psychiatrists, psychedelics, etc., and is a reference to the concept of the mind. ‘Soma’ is the Greek term for our body; that is, our limbs, organs, bones, head, face, genitals, and anything else we consider as part of our physical anatomy.
Psychosomatics, then, is a term describing the influence of mental or emotional states on bodily symptoms and sensations.
Food and Emotions: the invisible connection
Nowadays only few of us see food purely as a source of nutrition for our bodies. Food is generally associated with pleasure, reward and a whole range of human emotions and conditions.
Just think of all the projections of popular culture depicting people eating cartons of ice cream after a break up or sipping tea in order to fill up discomforting silences.
What is Self-Compassion?
"Be kind to yourself."
We can hear this quite a lot, but what does it actually mean? Being kind to ourselves relates to the act of self-compassion. Before we think about self-compassion, let’s focus our attention to compassion. Compassion is the process of being aware of suffering in others and the drive to do something about that in order to sooth or prevent it. The word compassion may hold different connotations for us.
Plato said “opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.”
People talk. And we hear. People tend to have opinions about everything and anyone. It doesn’t matter if their opinion is an argument or “just saying”, they will feel entitled to express it and we will fall for it. In other words, many of us tend to see ourselves through other people's eyes. Every day, every moment of it, we feel judged about our looks, how we behave, how smart we are or if we are being good partners or good parents.
There’s something really sad about Christmas.
You can see it in all these commercials with families gathered around the table, blissfully celebrating the festive days with their loved ones, exchanging perfectly-wrapped presents next to shiny Christmas trees, with everyone smiling and feeling so lucky to have each other.
What??? You can’t see it yet?
To give you a hint:
In this “merry” picture, projected through media and social media...
...where are the people who are grieving the loss of a loved one?
...where are the people who can’t spend time with their friends and family because of work?
There is this idea that Inner peace is like a destination, where, upon reaching, you become a brand new person and nothing upsetting or discomforting can get to you anymore. In this “Inner Peace Land” (if we can call it like that), there is no stress or any uncomfortable emotion; there is no conflict, there is no pain, there is no fear. And we even believe that if once something upsetting comes, we will not even blink, due to our “zen” zone that we have successfully acquired.
Reality Check: is there such a place? NO.
(Guest article by Chantal Wendel, virtual personal assistant at Sapphire Virtual PA)
Our brain is a wonderful, magical thing. If we would process every impulse from the world around us that comes into our brains one by one, it would be a sure recipe for immediate madness. Fortunately, the brain has developed systems to handle this. For example, if you look at a building, the brain does not think about each individual stone, window and door, but it immediately sees a complete house.
This is how I call any challenging situation, any hard time in life, that brings turbulence in my inner -hard-won- balance.
I call it like that not only because it is -objectively- a difficult moment in your life. But mainly because it blows a strong wind inside your mind, it makes you feel you have no shelter to protect yourself, it thunders against all what you have believed and dreamt so far, it pours you into an emotional rollercoaster, and all this you have to fight it by yourself.
Defeating anxiety, stress, negative thoughts, procrastination and fears has never been easy. And it never will be. Not because there is something wrong with us, or because we are doing it the wrong way, but because it is something that indeed requires from us conscious effort, time, practice and a lot of mental energy. We are actually rewiring our brain: changing the neuron paths existing since childhood which take us a certain way, into a different path, where things happen in a different way and are linked to different thoughts.
In order to build that new path, we need to develop some specific skills. Attention: don't go into "all or nothing" thinking, saying to yourself "I don't have that skill, so I will never beat anxiety". It's not "you either have it or you don’t". We all have these skills, each and every one of us, at a different degree. And we can all work on these skills, a little bit every day, some skills more than others. There is no recipe here. No one is master in all of them - we are all trying our best.
Everyone talks about the downside of depression. But is there a good side at all? Anger and stress, for example, can help us adapt to external threat and protect ourselves. But depression? Is there any actual benefit in it?
Depression helps us build stronger relationships.
At some point in our life we experience the pain and grief associated with the loss of a loved one. We feel depressed, our life seems empty, we are stressed, and what seemed interesting in the past, now appears meaningless. This pain makes us understand how close we were to this person and how important they were to our life. it is during this depressive phase that we acknowledge how significant our relationships are to our well-being.
Once upon a time there was a man called Odysseus, the king of Ithaka who fought for a decade at the war of Troy together with his men. After the war, he started his trip back home but unfortunately he and his 12 ships were driven off course by storms. They travelled all around the Mediterranean sea, chased by angry gods, seduced by vindictive women, life-threatened and shipwrecked by humanlike landscapes. During 10 years of struggling, Odysseus lost all his men but eventually escaped and survived from all these tortures and challenges, because he was the only one believing in his return back home. And he reached there alone.
Three weeks on holidays. After an exhausting year of work, work, work. Three books chosen. (Or, let to be chosen.)
1. One from the classics: The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway. (Actually that was a re-read. I first read it during my school years. Different eras, different perspectives, totally different insights.)
2. One from my favorites authors: What I talk when I talk about running, Haruki Murakami. (Or, how a writer can blow your mind, even if he's talking about his running marathons)
3. One from a random pick (someone's suggestions, somewhere in the web): A tale for the time being, Ruth Ozeki. (It turned out to be my first book written by a Zen Buddhist priest which didn't seem at all to be written by a Zen Buddhist priest.)
A really wise insight from a 6-year-old talking about how she deals with scary thoughts, how she lets go from circumstances that are about to "close" and how she recognizes that time is necessary to heal these negative feelings and to make these thoughts go away. It's as if she has been trained in mindfulness.
Amazed, speechless and moved by this story.
Share with everybody, it's worth spreading, really!
This is a story, a pattern which comes up very frequently when discussing with people: we all want to know whether we made the right decion or now. Or we are struggling hard in order to be 100% that we wil make the right decision in a given upcoming conflicting situation.
Take for example, those who live as expats in a foreign country.
They move to a new country for an unspecified period. They don't know whether it was a good decision or not. They struggle with life there: don't like the place, the weather, the system, the people, the traditions, the mentality. And when comparing the new life with the former one, the latter is always the winner. At the same time, they keep asking themselves: “Did I make the right decision?" In the end, they may move back to their home country with a feeling of relief, but also bitterness regarding the time “wasted” there.
On the other hand, there is another category of expats who may adjust pretty well to the new place. They have anticipated there would be difficulties in the beginning, but they are ready to compromise and to try. And above all, they never ask themselves if they made the right decision.
While most people have heard of panic attacks, those who have not experienced it may find it hard to understand how frightening it can be. A panic attack is not just an intense feeling of anxiety, but rather a blast of terror that the brain produces only for truly frightening events. Panic attacks are also often associated with intense physical reactions, which often lead those experiencing them to falsely identify them as a serious health issue. Although they are relatively common, panic attacks are often not fully understood. Many suffer unnecessarily because they are unaware that what they are experiencing is mainly psychological rather than physical and that there is an effective treatment for it.
The first and most important thing to know about panic attacks is that they are not dangerous. Panic attacks are experienced as dangerous because they activate the emergency system in our brain, which thinks us in immediate danger. A bit like placing a fire alarm near a toaster, the security system in our brain releases false alarm during panic attacks.
TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE.