How being a Perfectionist can damage your life

I attended a course last weekend which started me thinking about how much we all damage ourselves and our quality of life by indulging in Perfectionism.   We often think of Perfectionists as having some form of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) where all can labels in the cupboards have to face forward and the cans and bottles have to be ranked in size order and by colour and content.

Most of us have some element of the Perfectionist within us – liking a tidy home or desk or having a regular place to put the kitchen scissors.  This type of behaviour helps us have more efficient and pleasant lives and avoids wasting hours of effort trying to find a roll of Cellotape.

However, our Perfectionism can become a problem when we start to apply it to ourselves and how we feel the world should treat us.  For instance, when the mechanism of the subconscious (which builds our map of the world and the everyday rules for living), starts to create rules which build an unrealistic expectation about the world around us and the way it should (must) treat us.

If we aren’t careful, we can begin to construct unrealistic rules for ourselves and then try to live by them, expecting the world to treat us well in return.  Examples of these beliefs could be  “I should never turn down the chance of doing something” or  “It must be 100% right.  Not even a tiny error is acceptable” or “My employer must always treat me well because I am a such a good worker and he really values my contribution”.

The result of creating these types of rule is that you put a massive amount of pressure on yourself and those around you to deliver something which is, in reality, unachievable.

“I should never turn down the chance of doing something” means that instead of having a varied and interesting life you are manically running/driving from one event to another.  Getting up early to get somewhere; leaving that event early to get somewhere else; frantically changing clothes for the next activity;  driving furiously to get somewhere else; always looking at the clock, cursing buses, trains and planes for being late; fretting and agitated in traffic jams; dragging friends and family around behind you in a frantic hurry to get somewhere and do something else rather than the thing you are actually doing!

Many people also apply this same “never turn anything down” rule to their work lives by never turning down a job or a project.  Clients tell me “it’s because they know I’m the only one who can  do it,”  “It’s my area of expertise”, “no one else can meet that kind of deadline”.  What they are really telling me is that their employer is exploiting their mistaken belief.  The Manager handing out the work probably thinks that my client is a mug for taking on more and more work; that they don’t really care what happens to one of their team when they eventually break down.  That as long as the job gets done and the Manager looks good, they’ll keep on piling on the work.  If it all goes wrong, they can blame the overworked and Perfectionist who has moved heaven and earth to make sure that they deliver a 100% perfect job.

The self-delusion that one is valued at work and that a company cares still runs deep in the veins of many employees, despite the evidence in front of them every day.  They will tolerate bullying, abuse and overwork because they fear the effort of finding a new job and lack the confidence to rise to the challenge of being given tasks without the right training, timescale or resources.  The chances are that if your boss never has to say “do it or I’ll find someone else who will” when loading another massive burden on your already overburdened back, then it’s YOU who’s the one taking on the work others have already said is impossible to do in the time/for the money/without more resource etc!

Another corrosive belief is that “it must be 100% right, otherwise the rest of what I’ve done is useless and worthless and I am a useless and worthless person who doesn’t deserve thanks or praise”.   No amount of praise can be meaningful to his kind of Perfectionist.  It rolls off them as their subconscious mind rejects what it sees as hollow words from people who  “just don’t know how much better the result could have been if only I could have done a better job”.  This creates in the Perfectionist a deep well of frustration and dissatisfaction with everything in their lives.  They feel bad all the time.  They might turn to drink, drugs, sex or food for comfort in order to achieve that elusive feeling of control over their lives. They might begin to blame others for their lack of perceived achievement, or break up relationships or just work harder and harder until they eventually break down.

The payback which comes from all this manic behaviour is often the firm belief that “My employer must always treat me well because I am a such a good worker and he values my contribution so much”.  Perfectionists believe this of their families too “because I work until 2am every night cleaning the kitchen the family must love me more and show me their appreciation”.

But because everyone views the Perfectionist as neurotic and unreasonable, they don’t value that person more.  In fact, they probably value them less than they would if they just worked 9-5 in the office and spent their time enjoying relaxation with the family playing games and doing trivial things.

As I’m always telling my clients, it’s OK to want to do things to the best of your abilities, but only within the context of the time, energy and other commitments that you have.

If you find yourself under constant pressure, ask yourself why.  What are the beliefs which are driving you to be under that pressure?  What makes the rules you’ve created for yourself true?  What less pressing rules could you create?  Are the rules you are currently living your life to actually out of date – were they right for when you were younger but are they appropriate to life as it is now?

Try writing down the rules which trouble you most and think about them.  How much do they ruin your life?  What would happen if you didn’t obey them?  What would you lose  AND, more importantly, what would you gain?

Why not take a look at the Perfectionist in your own life, and see how your own work and home life could be improved?


Quit Smoking for Good this Stoptober!

Yes, it’s almost here.  The NHS’s “Stoptober” event designed to help smokers quit before Christmas.  They got a great support package and even a cute App to use.

In support of the event I’ve sent out a press release to local media addressed to those who are thinking of using hypnosis to support their efforts to quit.  Here’s what it says…

Local hypnotherapist provides support for NHS “Stoptober” Campaign

A Havering based hypnotherapist is urging the public to look for practitioners registered with the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) if they want to use hypnotherapy to help them give up smoking during the NHS’s Stoptober campaign.

Many people use hypnotherapy to help them to stop smoking. The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) was set up 18 months ago with government funding and support to provide a central registry of practitioners who are fully trained and qualified to  meet the standards and requirements of the CNHC and to follow their strict Code of Practice.

Keith Jefford, who was trained by the Institute of Clinical Hypnosis in London and is among one of the first hypnotherapists in the UK to be registered with the CNHC says: “Hypnotherapy is often used to help clients achieve the behavioural change needed to stop smoking and it’s so important they use someone who knows what they are doing.  In my experience, it is vital that the hypnotherapist has the training, skill and experience to be flexible.  Each client must be treated as an individual, and the hypnotherapist has to adapt their treatment to suit each person’s requirement and personality.  The CNHC symbol acts as a mark of professional quality and high standards of service”.

Keith added that: “members of the public can search the CNHC register at  to find practitioners in their local area.  More than 170,000 searches have been carried out since the register first opened in 2009”

I know that I’ve blogged about this before, but the CNHC is there for the protection of the public and NHS therapy commissioning services alike, so if you know anyone who thinking about using hypnosis to quit the demon weed, please get them to check the CNHC Register first to ensure that they have the best possible chance of succeeding.

Five things that people regret on their deathbeds

Later on this year I plan to write a blog article on death, fear of it and coping with it.

However, for those of you who wonder what regrets you might have when your turn comes take a look at this brief article on the five greatest regrets express by people with only a few days of life left.

After reading the article, take a few moments to consider how, armed with that knowledge and insight, you might change your own life to avoid having the same regrets.

Some Advice about Giving Up Smoking using Hypnosis

It’s Lung Cancer awareness month and so giving up smoking is the topic of the day

Hypnosis tends to attract people who have failed to quit through will-power or through the use of nicotine patches. Having failed on their own, they are looking for someone with the magic bullet to stop the habit dead in its tracks.

The bad news folks, is that it doesn’t work that way. I turn away as many people as I take on for smoking cessation because, in their heart of hearts, many don’t want to give up. My heart always sinks when someone rings me and says “I though I’d have a go at hypnosis” or “my husband keeps nagging me to stop” because in neither case is the individual in the right place to succeed.

No matter how someone tries to convince you, take it from me that if you don’t want to give up smoking, hypnosis on its own won’t work. You’ll fall off the waggon at the first opportunity and you’ll tell all your friends “I tried being hypnotised but it didn’t work”.


 Tip No1 – don’t try hypnotherapy until you are really, really fed up with smoking, are bored with worrying about it, envy non-smokers and hate nearly every cigarette you have. THEN you’re ready for hypnosis.

Tip No2 – you need to prepare for your session. A few days before your session, wash all your clothes, get your suits or dresses dry cleaned, thoroughly clean the car, throw away ALL ashtrays and lighters (even if relatives and friends smoke they can do it in the garden from now on), thoroughly vacuum the house and install new air fresheners. Buy a new toothbrush and keep for use after you’ve had your very last cigarette.

Tip No3 – on the morning of your treatment really ENJOY your very last cigarette. Savour every lungful. And then put it out, pour water over the rest of the pack (don’t give them away, destroy them), have a shower, brush your teeth with your OLD toothbrush and throw it away (because it will taste of cigarettes) and use your new one from now on. Do not smoke any more cigarettes, even if your session is late in the evening (you might be surprised to find that having done all this preparatory work, you won’t actually be craving one).

Tip No4Relax and let go as you begin your cessation session.  Let your mind be still and be really honest about how you feel about smoking, how many you smoke etc. Your therapist should always take a full Case History  and Smoking History.  NOW your ready for your hypnosis!! BTW, I never use scare tactics in my therapy. Smokers are already acutely aware of the dangers of smoking so why try to add more angst? Instead, I use powerful suggestions to remove the urge to smoke, always getting the permission of the subconscious mind to co-operate in the process (I once had a frequently lapsing smoker who at the point of having his subconscious asked for co-operation became quietly upset. When I asked about the reason for his becoming tearful, he told me that he saw smoking as the last remaining link with his deceased mother and that it was so powerful a feeling, it sabotaged his every attempt to quit. We dealt with this in a few minutes and he left the office happy and convinced that he would never smoke again).

Tip No5 – On completion your hypnosis, you should always be taught how to think, act and speak like a non-smoker. This is an important part of the process. Always ensure that your therapist is prepared to teach you to do this. Without this knowledge, you run the risk of continuing to be a “temporary” non-smoker.

Tip No6 – Do not get drunk for at least ONE MONTH after your treatment and do not try to test your hypnosis. Drink will weaken your willpower and you run the risk of a momentary lapse. Similarly, non-smokers don’t need to test themselves to see if they are still non-smokers, they just are. Think of yourself as being just like an alcoholic – you can’t afford to have single shot of your favourite poison. You don’t smoke. You don’t ask for a drag of a cigarette, light one for someone else, stand outside pubs in the pouring rain. Non-smokers don’t do that sort of thing.

To read more, take a look at my website and go to the Smoking Cessation page. Good luck with your efforts!

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