The drive to succeed can lead down a wrong path
Pursuing excellence is admired, encouraged and rewarded by our society. Parents, teachers and other adults heroically guide our youth to excel.
Sometimes, however, this well-intentioned zeal to help our children succeed, may unintentionally contribute to our youth becoming neurotic perfectionists – leading to tragic consequences, including adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue symptoms may include: difficulty getting up in the morning, fatigue unrelieved by sleep, low blood sugar, light-headedness when standing up quickly, salt cravings and getting sick often.
Hamachek described neurotic perfectionists as people that are “unable to feel satisfaction.” Burns defines perfectionists as “people who strain compulsively…toward impossible goals and measure their own worth entirely in terms of productivity and accomplishment.”
A neurotic perfectionist does not feel satisfied on the journey through life, but only after they have completed a task, regardless of the costs to their health and personal relationships.
Perfectionists often suffer from anxiety, low self-esteem, chronic guilt, eating disorders, clinical depression, compulsiveness, stress, drug addiction and many dysfunctional personality traits that can interfere with relationships.
Parents, teachers, family members, friends of young adults can play a major role in helping young people to avoid and overcome perfectionism.
If you are a perfectionist, yourself, come clean and talk with them about the negative consequences that you have seen in your own life.
Model a balanced lifestyle and encourage children to engage in some activities just for fun.
Compliment them in a way that does not feed into anxiety about appearance. Reward them for doing their best, not just for A’s or winning. Encouraging them to sleep enough, eat a balanced diet, exercise daily – and to have a sense of humor.
Temper your criticism with what they did well, teach them to learn from their mistakes, and an attitude of “good enough,” is an appropriate for some activities.
A little “food for thought” in overcoming perfectionism:
- Accept yourself as a finite human being.
- Forgive yourself.
- Strive for a balanced life, not perfection.
- Do not set unreasonable goals.
- Start and finish projects as time and energy permits.
- Be kind to yourself.
- Positive self-talk only
- Embrace your humanity and be able to laugh at yourself.
- Enjoy, be proud of, and reward yourself for your successes when you did so in a healthy way.
- Love yourself unconditionally.
- Evaluate your performance as a scientist, reporting the facts, not as a critic.
If you are concerned about your adrenal fatigue and cortisol levels, a simple saliva test is available.