According to a new large scale meta-analysis of nearly 25,000 subjects perfectionism has increased substantially since 1990. And it’s affecting men and women equally. I read an article about the research in a recent article by one of the researchers, Simon Sherry and found it incredibly thought provoking. Sherry shared some powerful stats in this article and some really impactful messages.
“This epidemic of perfectionism in modern western societies is a serious, even deadly, problem. Perfectionism is robustly linked in the research to anxiety, stress, depression, eating disorders and suicide.”
Some of the causes the research highlights:
- parenting styles that are hyper-critical and hovering
- the constant stream of comparison to social media
- unrealistic images and messaging in mainstream media
The problems with perfectionism are many, but most striking to me was the long term implications. In his article Sherry highlights how perfectionists are more prone to burnout and which could ultimately leave them unstable and less reliable.
Not awesome. So what is the antidote?
In his article Sherry speaks to the impact of parenting with a kinder, less controlling and critical approach. And ends the article with this social media #truthbomb
“Perfectionism is a myth and social media is its storyteller. We need to teach a healthy skepticism toward the suspiciously “perfect” lives promoted through social media posts and mainstream media advertisements. Unrealistic images achieved through photo-shopping, airbrushing and filters are less compelling once you learn the game is rigged.”
Have a read of the full article, then take a moment to consider how your mainstream media and social media is helping or hindering you in your life. Then consider some of the following steps to embrace your perfectly imperfect life:
- Use the unlike and unfollow button liberally.
- Embrace self-compassion and kindness.
- Be generous with yourself and others. None of us is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist.
And most importantly, scroll mindfully. Remember that the newsfeed is often carefully curated. Thoughtfully presented images and messaging to represent a brand. And I’m not just talking about businesses, but celebrities, social influencers and even people just like you as well. In this age of digital marketing and online side hustles social media is a machine to many. People don’t always have your best interests at heart. I don’t say this to be jaded or bitter – but so that we all might be a bit more mindful as we scroll.
We hold the power – what we give our attention not only persists, it thrives. If we don’t like what we see we have the power in our unlike and unfollow. Disengage from it! It’s true, the “game is rigged.” But if we choose differently and the game will change. I truly believe it.