That perfect evening with friends can be ruined if it doesn't meet your high expectations. Or, the efforts might leave you all drained out, what with those customized invitations, looking for appetizer plates with matching serving platters and table decor.
At times, a relaxed and imperfect approach towards organising small get-togethers can be a better way to relish time with friends and family.
Here are some ways to banish your quest for perfection during the holidays:
1. Learn to distinguish between healthy high standards and perfectionism.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to do things well. However, having high standards is not the same thing as perfectionism.
Perfectionism refers to a tendency to have excessively high standards - standards that cannot possibly be met.
Perfectionists often experience intense anxiety, shame, anger, or low mood when their standards or goals are not met.
Perfectionism may affect people's functioning by causing them to spend too long on tasks, or to avoid tasks altogether (in other words, to procrastinate).
Before overcoming problems with perfectionism, it is useful to distinguish between healthy high standards versus standards that are unrealistic or that cause problems in the long run.
2. Take a step back - consider your perfectionist thoughts and shift your thinking to be more realistic and balanced. Remember, just because you believe that everything has to be perfect, doesn't mean that your belief is true.
3. Expose yourself to imperfection. Just as practising driving can help someone get over a fear of being behind the wheel, allowing things to be less than perfect will reduce your fear of imperfection.
So, let the towels hang crookedly, purposely add a minor typo to your dinner invitation, or serve dinner a half hour later than planned. By allowing some flexibility in the way you do things, you will learn to be more comfortable with minor imperfections and unexpected changes to your plans.
4. Evaluate whether you may be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because perfectionism is associated with standards and expectations that are impossible to meet, perfectionists run the risk of having events not turn out as desired and therefore develop the perception that they have "reason" to worry. Accept your inability to control the outcomes, but recognize that you can control your reaction.
5. Seek treatment if your perfectionism is a problem. If perfectionism leads to significant problems with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, or difficulties in your relationships, you may want to seek expert help from an experienced mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. Your family doctor is a good place to start if you are looking for a referral.