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Perfectionism: is it ever healthy?

Patheos post: You will never be perfect by Chris Williams, June 7, 2018

 

Last month, Patheos contributor, Chris Williams wrote about perfection and how we’ll never achieve it in this life. He also suggested that our imperfections can strengthen both faith and relationships:

If perfection was the goal, I’d never keep a friend. I’d be afraid of letting them down. I’d be afraid they’d let me down. I’d let every hurt feeling be a reason to burn a bridge.

He argues that argues that imperfection opens up the door to grace: a key characteristic of a Christian life:

Imperfection opens the door to grace. If we were held to perfection, there would be no reason for anyone to forgive us. There’d be no opportunity for us to forgive others. Imperfection humbles us and allows others to show us grace.

Read the whole article. It’s very interesting. It was a great read for me personally, because I can be a bit of a perfectionist. And of course, I fail. Every. Single. Day. I might start off alright, but if I’ve been awake for more than an hour, then stuff happens. So finding this article last week offered a bit of comfort, I guess.

What about the Bible?

Some readers rejected Williams’ conclusion by alluding to Mathew 5:48:

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect

(Matt 5:48 New Living Translation)

Does the verse mean what people think it means? To life a perfect life? It may not mean what others think.

Commentaries on Bible Hub offer various interpretations of this verse, including an extension to the Jewish law demanding that people aren’t just pious, but also courteous to their neighbour, while others refer to the perfection that comes with being complete in Christ. It’s interesting to point out that Matthew 5 is a part of the Sermon on the Mount and only four verses above (Matt 5:44), where Jesus commands his listeners to love their enemies.

 

Perfectionism and psychology

While psycho,ogists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals encourage people to strive for excellence, many warn against perfectionism — the personality trait that’s characterised by striving to make all facets of life perfect, or at least seem to be perfect.  While perfectionism itself isn’t a mental illness, it can be a symptom of a mental illness like anxiety disorder or OCD. Perfectionism can lead to depression.

However, there is debate among psychologists and psychiatrists whether a ‘degree’ of perfectionism is ever beneficial.  ‘Degrees’ of perfectionism’ between healthy and unhealthy can be seen on perfectionism self – screening tools on sites such as Psychology Today and Dr. Jeff Szymanski. Both these self – screening quizzes indicate that there are ‘degrees’ of perfectionism, and a low degree can be beneficial.

Paul Hewitt PhD  from the University of British Columbia completely rejects the idea. Dr. Hewitt, along with Gordon Flett PhD concludes after twenty years of research that perfectionism is hazardous to one’s well – being and relationships. Unlike other researchers from the 1990’s, Hewitt and Flett  don’t buy the argument of adaptiveness. Both Hewitt and Flett, however, do agree that there are different varying extremes of perfectionism that come with various results, none, they argue, are completely positive.

Do you consider yourself or someone you a perfectionist? How has it affected your life, life of another person and their (or your) relationships? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Categories
Gender/ sexuality Media

Ravishly wrong about #MeToo and demonising men

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In the wake of the #MeToo, feminist site Ravishly speculates how relations between men and womwn, including in romantic relationships, have been affected

 

I usually like the American feminist site, Ravishly. I like how they allow various voices to be heard. I like their advocacy and inclusion, especially of the LGBTQ+ community.I love the way they have written about asexuality.

 

This, though, goes too far. The title itself is provocative enough: “Can Straight Couples Survive #MeToo”.The columnist, Myisha Battle starts off alright; how the #MeToo movement emboldened and terrified women about the extent of sexual assault and harassment. Women seek solace forming communities where women can support other survivors of such trauma. Great. But, after that, the article goes downhill.

Take these quotes:

How do women still go out with guys when you consider that there is no greater threat to women than men?

(said by CK himself before the accusations against him became public)

…where does that leave us with our relationships with men?

Fair or not, the biggest question that women who are partnered with men is “has he always been a good man and can I continue to trust that he will be good to me and all the other women in his life?

I imagine that people would be offended by the last quote in particular. And if it was said about any other group: LGBTQ+ people, people of colour, etc, it wouldn’t be tolerated.

Men as a whole should not be condemned for the actions of a few. Women shouldn’t feel like they tiptoe around partners, husbands, brothers, uncles, fathers, etc unnecessarily (unless there is reason to; violence, etc).

 

Another thing I don’t like about this is women perpetrators and male victims of abuse and harassment get ignored. At least one male survivors of sexual assault have  made that accusation against the movement as a whole.

The author of the Stuff article I posted above isn’t the only male that has broken his silence of abuse and harassment. Infamously, Anthony Rapp accused Kevin Spacey of assaulting him when he was only fourteen. George of the Jungle and The Mummy star, Brendan Fraser, used #MeToo to allege that he was sexually assaulted by a former Hollywood Press Association president (which the accused denied at the time the article was written).

 

It’s true that the vast majority of victims of sexual violence are women, according the the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and over 90% of perpetrators are male, according to Centres Against Sexual Assault (CASA). I think we have to remember when the roles are reversed (male victim/ female perpetrator) or when men have been assaulted by other men either as children or adults.

Final thing. As a non – straight person, I want to defend straight couples. They are not all toxic. The revelations brought about by the #MeToo movement should not be treated as an indictment against heterosexuality. This is ridiculous. There are good men who love women, both their partners, other family members and friends. There are fathers of girls who adore them and would hate for any harm to come to them – especially something as abhorrent as sexual assault.

The #MeToo movement should— and I think has done so somewhat successfully— exposed men, in particular, that have been abusive. They should be held to account. Using the movement to scaremonger and demonise men unjustly won’t do anyone any good.

If you’re Australian and this has brought up any issues for you, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or 1800 – RESPECT (1800 737 732)

If you aren’t from Australia and know any helpline numbers or other contact details of organisations that help sexual assault sufferers in your country, please post them in the comments below. 

Categories
Life

Love, love, love

Cosmopolitan (Australia) kicks off 2018 by celebrating love in all it’s forms in the wake of the same – sex marriage vote.

 

 

Last year was tense. My blogging last year was tense. So I thought I’d start 2018 on a light note. This is inspired by this month’s Cosmopolitan (Australia) issue.

Love.

Notebook with love heart
Image: Canva

Love can take many forms. At best, it’s reciprocated and combined with care, respect and kindness.

I’m glad that the Cosmopolian article went beyond the partnered/ romantic love. For many people, including those on the aromantic/ asexual spectrum, different types of love like familial and friendship take prominence.

Even people who are not romantic or asexual often have craving for different types of affection. In fact, it’s well known that in infants, the amount of affectionate touch  can determine further  (or lack of) neurological development throughout a child’s life.

 

Regardless of whether the love is familial, romantic or platonic, love is about caring about for the other person. It’s about respecting them as a human being and wanting the best for their well – being. It includes trying to understand the other person; their limits, their emotions, their wishes, etc. It’s about at least trying to keep their thoughts, feelings and desires into consideration, of course, without putting yourself or other people in any type of jeopardy.

The Beatles sang “money can’t me love”, which is ultimately true, but I think it’s nice to spend money on a loved one on special occasions, (birthdays, Christmases, Valentine’s Day, etc), or for no reason at all. Of course, if you’re crafty (which I’m not really), making something for someone will almost certainly be appreciated.

Love isn’t always about fun and games. It’s about being there for someone during good times and bad. You should be able to be yourself with the people you love. Love should, and even oblige, people to be honest, even if the truth is something that the other person doesn’t want to hear (not always easy.

I think the most important thing about love is that it’s unconditional. Love itself should not be a reward for preferred behaviour or other aspect of the person. Love should allow people to relax with each other and not have a care in the world. Whether it’s watching TV together, going out to dinner or even communicating on social media, love should allow each person to relax and not stress too much or fear judgement.

Love should build up, not tear down. Overall, I think people should feel better about themselves after talking to or being around someone they care about. When someone has low self – esteem or mental health issues, this isn’t always easy. Sometimes, people won’t believe you when you say that they are worthy, beautiful, etc (guilty). That doesn’t mean that we should automatically treat someone as lesser than because of it. Those people who dismiss it often are the ones that need to hear it the most.

 

Human love is complicated. It can be fraught with uncertainty. Sometimes love can hurt (we are human), but that pain should always be allowed to heal and should be prevented in the future.

That’s my take. What’s love mean to you? 

 

 

Categories
Culture

Sologamy: Fad? Good idea or selfishness?

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There is a bit of a trend of people; men and women,’marrying’ themselves. (Image: iStock)

Emmajane Love, 33, got married… to herself.

It happened last year on the Gold Coast, with friends and family from different parts of the world attending the ceremony.

It’s not legal here, and in the US state of Arizona where she currently is. So, it’s symbolic.

It may seem strange and it worries some experts. Some regard the concept as “the saddest trend you’ve ever seen”.

While many say it’s narcissistic, I can actually see the logic behind it.

Love told David Koch and Samantha Armytage on Seven’s Sunrise that sologamy was the chance to declare a love to the self. According to Love, this came about in the aftermath of toxic and abusive relationships. For this reason, I’m sympathetic to the idea.

 

More than anything, I think the ‘sologamy’ movement brings up conversations that society needs to have.

One is self – esteem and self – worth. Even now, I think these two things are (mistakenly) linked to marriage and significant romantic and sexual relationships.  The link between lack of marriage and loneliness is still emphasised, even though it’s not always the case.

Too often, women (and men) can feel inadequate or broken for not having a ‘significant other’. While marriage and long – term relationships are the norm, marriage is not something that people should be pressured into. People’s self – worth should not be tied up in finding “the one”.

On a second, and more sobering note, I think we need to talk about those who need healing from toxic or abusive relationships. Domestic violence is way too prevalent worldwide, with the World Health Organisation stating that around one in three (35%) of women are victims of sexual and/ or physical violence at the hands of a partner, spouse or non – partner in their lifetime. Data from the 2012 ABS Personal Safety Survey said that 1 in 22 men have experienced sexual violence since the age of fifteen. Survivors of abuse need to be given permission and tools to heal from such trauma. If a “sologamous” wedding provides that, then good luck to them.

 

On the other hand, as I researched for this blog, I have noticed that some women have had’sologamous’ weddings to prevent nagging about finding a partner and getting married from friends and family. This should not be necessary. Some adults are single; happily single, single, but want a relationship and those who may have given up on finding love. I strongly believe that the stigma towards these people, especially those in their 30’s needs to stop. Some people won’t get married. Ever. Or get married again. These people should be left to be. If they want to find someone, then let them look. BUT for those who aren’t on the look out, they should NOT be made to feel broken or lesser than anyone else.

 

Will sologamy be a dying craze or keep growing? We’ll have to wait and see. It certainly brings up a lot of interesting things that should be talked about: healing from toxic or abusive relationships, how society views single people, particularly women over thirty and the ability to love yourself unconditionally.

What do you think about sologamy? 

 

Categories
Life

When the ‘Roaring 20’s’ isn’t what you think it was meant to be

The twenties.

Full of love, happiness and success.

Except when it’s not.

I’m twenty – eight now. While my twenties haven ‘t been bad, really. It’s been far from predictable, successful and full of constant happiness. My mid twenties – around twenty – five was particularly hard until i went on the Rotary Lions’ Club’s ‘Rotary Youth Leadership Award’. The week there, gave me a new lease on life and a sense of optimism that I hadn’t experienced in a while. Sometimes, your twenties can be quite lonely. It’s often a time when friends that have grown up together go their separate ways. If your lucky, you may have one or two that you keep in contact with (I’m one of the lucky ones, actually).

In terms of career success, in your twenties, you face a brutal truth; that you will most likely be rejected at least once. Your career may not have taken off. For some, being in your twenties means having to move back with your parents. According to the September 2017 issue of Cosmopolitan (Australia), one in ten Australians take anti depressants. (“The Great Millennial Meltdown, Jennifer Savin, pp. 103 – 107. Cosmopolitan Australia, September 2017).

According to the Jennifer Savin article. there is a bit of an industry, at least in Europe. In a hotel in Benehavis, Spain, women in their 20’s and early 30’s flocked to a retreat run by Stephanie Kazolides in a mental health/ yoga/ meditation program called ‘Quarter Life Health Project. The retreat cost A$500 per person.

The twenties seemed to be big contrast for many people than what they think or are told it should be. It’s definitely a contrast from some of the images I found iStock for this post.

Group of happy and young people
Image: iStock
Young man gains good news over phone ecstatic
Image: iStock

For many people, obviously, the twenties may not live up to these expectations for most people – at least not all the time. It’s a time where you’re still trying to make sense of things, fighting for independence and trying to get on your feet career wise. What shocked me in the Savin article was the percentage of people who enter employment after graduating university – just over 41% which I think is despicable actually, but that may be for another post somewhere along the line.

The twenties comes with growth, expectations and transitions in relationships. Unfortunately, for too many when relational transitions take place, people in their twenties often experience loneliness, which can be really hard. Most people have a vision of what the twenties should be like — by being told by others or themselves. Moving out, working, having adventures, getting married, buying a house, etc.

Yet, following that path isn’t so straightforward, especially for Gen Ys who live in the major cities. Work isn’t as easy to come by, including when you have a degree. I know from experience even getting relevant work placement when doing a TAFE course can be hard (that’s one of the things that got me in a rut).

 

While I don’t think Gen Y has had it the worst — every generation faces it’s challenges — looking back I think Gen Y could have had things a bit differently. I think for too long, university was seen as the ticket to employment, even though TAFE was getting less stigmatised, university for most was the ultimate goal. I think people who were taught about careers, applying for courses and jobs, etc, I think it would have helped to have a bit more of a talk about rejection and possible long or medium – term unemployment wouldn’t have gone astray. Not to mention stigma still faced by people with a disability. Then again, I guess no – one predicted the GFC in 2008, which threw a lot of young people off.

 

For people who haven’t entered or have only started their twenties, I have one piece of advice – take it in your stride. It’s not going to be all smooth sailing. Be flexible (probably for a while my big downfall). And, most importantly, reach out and get help if you think you need it.

For health resources or support, you can contact and get information from Beyond Blue.

Click on these articles if you think you need better ways to deal with stress (or just some encouragement).

Her Campus: How to deal with stress in your 20’s

Psychology Today: If you’re lost in your 20’s

GoodTherapy.org Mental health issues to be aware of in your 20’s

Have you got any tips you’d like to share with 20 – something readers? Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below.