You Can Do Those Dishes Tomorrow

Tell the family it’s for your health, you’re doing it for them.

A Canadian study of 450 seniors over 6 1/2 years suggests that a clean house and your ducks in a row might kill you.

Perfectionists — that is, those who expressed “a strong motivation to be perfect” and revealed a tendency toward “all or nothing thinking” — were approximately 51 percent more likely to have died during the life of the study than those with more reasonable self-expectations. Those who were rated high on neuroticism — for instance, those who reported often feeling tense — did even worse: Their risk of death nearly doubled compared with those with a more relaxed disposition.

In contrast, “risk of death was significantly lower for high scorers in conscientiousness, extraversion and optimism,” reports lead author Prem S. Fry, a research psychologist at British Columbia’s Trinity Western University.

In my observation, stressy perfectionism in the elderly is a symptom of mental and emotional suffering. Hard to deal with too, because telling them not to worry works about as well as when someone tells you not to worry.

My husband was going to make a T-shirt with a slogan–‘I don’t know where I’m going but I’m IN CONTROL!’

The illusion of control, rightness, safety can blind us to the real world around us. Black and white thinking might be driving some old people to heart attacks. Younger people, with their stronger constitutions, just get crazy and extreme.

3 thoughts on “You Can Do Those Dishes Tomorrow

  1. Dirty dishes and clothing strewn on floors,as well as unmade beds are just signs of sloppiness.
    On the other hand “clean clutter”-i.e.books or DVD’s piled in odd places,etc is healthy.
    Military perfectionism is great in the service,not so much at home.

  2. Suzanne Arena made a comment on another thread which I believe she meant to put here:

    “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.” – Anne Lamott

    I used to keep this above my desk because my boss was such a Felix Unger….funny so was my X. It’s amazing how much time is wasted on the ultimatation of extreme perfection – truly a sad ‘ism’.

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