incredible-marketing Arrow

If I could just be better, you might think, I could make this situation better. The daughter of an alcoholic father might believe that if she could just do everything as perfectly as possible, she won’t make her father angry. If she doesn’t make her father angry, he won’t act in abusive ways toward her. The husband of a wife with borderline personality disorder might believe that if he could just learn her every single trigger, act in the most non-triggering ways possible, and learn to appease her impulsive behaviors and changing mood, he won’t be the target of her emotional abuse. What is problematic about the need to be perfect and the perception of it’s control on a trauma-causing situation is this: the belief that changing yourself changes another person. Moreover, the belief that changing yourself changes how another person chooses to behave. If only we humans were so powerful over one another. For many people who live with PTSD or other manifestations of trauma, this belief is powerful enough to drive a variety of dysfunctional, maladaptive, perfectionistic behaviors. For all of our efforts, our attempts never succeed. We cannot control others or the lives we live. We can, however, find more control over our own lives, especially when we stop attempting to control others through perfectionism.

Conditional statements follow an “If…then” formula. If I am perfect…then they will change. If I am perfect…then the abuse will stop. If I am perfect…I can heal the past. If I am perfect…I can dictate the future. If I am perfect…I can control the present. Survivors of trauma cling to the conditional control of perfectionism because of the nature of trauma itself. Judy Crane, leading trauma expert, defines trauma as any life event or series of life events which cause someone to question who they are, the world in which they live, and what their role is in that world. Most often, trauma is a completely uncontrollable situation. Many professionals also define trauma as a situation in which someone feels they have no control over what is happening to them or in their lives. Perfectionism is largely a control mechanism. Control mechanisms are coping mechanisms. Like many of the coping mechanisms which manifest in a response to trauma, perfectionism can become out of control and create more harm in our lives.

Trauma treatment and recovery helps us to realize that we don’t need to be perfect and that being perfect does not change other people. We learn that we are perfect the way that we are, with all of our imperfections. Looking at the history of trauma in our lives, we find the many places where our perfectionism was inspired. Looking at behaviors, we discover the ways that perfectionism helped us cope as well as the ways that perfectionism continued to cause us pain. Looking to the future, we learn healthy coping skills to let the need to be perfect go.

The Guest House Ocala offers private residential treatment programs for trauma, addictions, and related mental illnesses, as well as other manifestations of trauma. Our luxury accommodations support the concierge level of customization each guest receives for the individualized planning of their treatment plan. For information for life on our estate in Ocala, Florida, call us today: 1-855-483-7800