Perfectionism Exhausts The Brain Way More Than You Think It Does
Listen, I know you want to be perfect -- many of us do. But I can pretty much guarantee you your quest for perfection is not only exhausting your brain; it's holding you back from what you truly want to accomplish. It's the reason why you just, for the life of you, cannot seem to ever get your work done.
What you are experiencing is called work paralysis, and no, it's not an excuse. Work paralysis is a real thing. It happens when your brain is completely exhausted from the stress you've dumped onto it, so it sort of, in a way, just shuts down.
Elite Daily spoke with licensed clinical psychologist Jodi J. DeLuca, PhD, who explains what work paralysis really entails.
“Take writer's block for example,” she says. “That is the brain's way of saying it needs a break. So that paralysis you're talking [about comes from] counter-productiveness. There's a dump of stress hormones from the brain. It's a stressful event.”
When you are striving for perfection, your brain processes that as a genuinely stressful situation.
Researchers at Miami University and Michigan State University conducted a study in which they examined the relationship between pressure-filled performance decrements (also known as "choking under pressure") and working memory capacity.
Their results showed, when under intense pressure, individuals who exemplified high working memory capacity showed a decline in their functions required to execute certain skills. Basically, the more demands you place on your working memory capacity, the less efficient your brain is.
Now, let's relate that back to striving for perfection. The reason why Dr. DeLuca labels perfectionism as a stressful event is because perfection is elusive.
Striving for something that isn't technically real places a sh*tload of pressure onto your brain. Essentially, you will never hit a peak, because your supposed target is never actually within reach.
Perfection doesn't actually exist, so essentially, you're aiming for something that can never be.
That, in itself, is a self-defeating action.
Dr. DeLuca tells Elite Daily,
The goal of perfection is an unrealistic expectation, as the pressure that is placed on the individual can lead to burnout, depression, and anxiety. It involves the higher cortical functions with the neocortex (the thinking brain) and the limbic cortex (the feeling brain). Because it involves that unrealistic goal, with the feeling brain, you get the anxiety, and the thinking brain, you're getting a lot of the frustration. So in a nutshell, perfection is a misplaced goal.
Guys, do you hear this? When you strive for perfection, you are reaching for a misplaced goal. That wording is crucial to understanding the nonsensical nature that's really behind this whole notion of perfectionism.
Elite Daily also spoke with Jim Curtis, motivational speaker, president and Chief Strategy Officer of Remedy Health Media and author of the new book, "The Stimulati Experience."
He says, when you're looking for perfection, the brain never actually gets the feeling of completion.
And he's right.
Author Miriam Adahan confirms this notion in her book, “EMETT: A Step-by-step Guide to Emotional Maturity Established Through Torah,” which states, “the belief that perfection is possible guarantees our eventual feeling of failure. There will always be something more to learn, some improvement possible, something which is left incomplete. A perfectionist feels discouraged and ashamed of his incompleteness.”
Instead of striving to be clean of fault, Dr. DeLuca suggests,
Do the best you can, have someone else look over the task, be more flexible with your thinking, be less rigid with your thought process, and be more patient with the expectations of your work performance and self.
Plus, keep this in mind: Your version of "perfection" will vary from moment to moment.
Your "all" today will always look different from your "all" tomorrow.