Jungian Therapy, Stress Reduction & Perfectionism
There is a clear link between stress reduction and perfectionism, when these two things are viewed from the perspective of Jungian therapy.
Roots of Perfectionistic Stress
Often, the negative side of the father, mother or family complexes can lead to a continual sense that whatever we do or produce is not enough. Another factor in the continual striving to make what we do better can be the shadow, which is the sum total of all those aspects of ourselves that we don’t wish to acknowledge. Our anxiety about these unacknowledged aspects of ourselves can drive us to strive ever more relentlessly to try to cover our weakness and imperfection.
Unrealistic expectations for ourselves are rooted in a lack of willingness to accept our own fundamental nature, with its particular strengths and weaknesses. This is a kind of pride.
The Sisyphus Agenda
In Greek myth, because of his pride, Sisyphus is eternally condemned to push a heavy rock up to the top of a mountain. He never can finish the task, and the rock continually rolls back downhill, and must be raised again. The eternal exhaustion and frustration of Sisyphus are an apt image for the struggle and stress of perfectionism.
Often, our own perfectionism can have this feeling of an endlessly wearing, endlessly frustrating ordeal. I know I have rolled the rock of perfectionism up the endlessly defeating hill more than a time or two in the past!
Accepting Ourselves and the World
Recently, a Facebook friend, Paulette Turcotte, posted “Anthem” by Leonard Cohen on her wall. The song is a remarkable commentary on perfectionism, and on our need to accept the shadowy and broken dimensions of life.
Cohen’s lyrics are profoundly expressive:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything…
That’s how the light gets in, that’s how the light gets in
We don’t get perfection in this life, either inside of ourselves, or outside. If we can accept this, and have some compassion for ourselves, then perhaps we can make some peace with the demands that we make on ourselves, and equally importantly, set appropriate boundaries for the demands that others make on us.
PHOTO: © All rights reserved by New Visions2010
VIDEO: “Anthem”, by Leonard Cohen © 2011 Sony Music Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.
© 2011 Brian Collinson
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