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22 October 2019
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STOP THE DELUSION

Stacy Thomson
Stacy Thomson

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07 October 2019 Stacy Thomson

We are in danger of creating mass delusion in which we regard everybody as having a mental illness when, actually, they’re just experiencing ‘normal’ human problems, says Stacey Thomson.

We are in danger of creating mass delusion in which we regard everybody as having a mental illness when, actually, they’re just experiencing ‘normal’ human problems. 


We’re struggling with how we behave and feel, how we understand ourselves and interact with others. We’re not really set up for it. Yes, mental illness is a serious issue, but for many people the problem is behavioural and emotional dysregulation. 


These are mental health issues, but not disorders or illnesses – it’s general human behaviour. One of the main culprits is the culture of perfectionism, which relies on imposed rules and assumptions that force people to strive for unattainable results. The result is criticism of self and others. But added to this are the expectations from society, your community and even workplace. 


Perfectionism is motivated, in part, by role models. Behaviours are either rewarded or punished. And we mimic behaviour and also act in a way that others emulate, reinforcing a culture of perfectionism. And striving for perfection can come at a huge personal cost. You might be very black and white in your thinking or prone to catastrophising and rumination. You might fear failure, making mistakes and being criticised by colleagues. So you isolate yourself you and communicate using email, for example.


In fact, replacing face-to-face conversations with email and other online communication means we’re deskilling ourselves because we can check everything multiple times before sending our words, exacerbating our fear of making mistakes and receiving negative evaluation.


And many of us unconsciously live our daily existence not realising what we’re doing to ourselves.


We blame the outside world and others in it for our fears and feelings or failure and then we also want others to take away our discomfort. And our workplaces are full of people who think the same way because we’re all striving for success but battling with perfectionism. We need to prevent the mental health narrative being diluted by giving too much credence to normal human struggles and learn how to become more resilient instead.


Stacy Thomson is founder of the Performance Club