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对完美的追求正在毁了年轻人

发布者: 千缘 | 发布时间: 2021-4-6 00:42| 查看数: 147| 评论数: 0|



I'm a bit of a perfectionist. Now, how many times have you heard that one? Over drinks, maybe, with friends, or perhaps with family at Thanksgiving. It's everyone's favorite flaw, it's that now quite common response to the difficult, final question at job interviews: "My biggest weakness? That's my perfectionism."

我是个完美主义者。你们听过这话多少次了呢?也许是在和朋友一起喝酒时,也许是和家人一起过感恩节时。这是人人钟爱的小缺点,在求职面试中,人们现在对于最后一个,也是最难的问题,往往有共同的回应:“我最大的缺点是?我是完美主义者。”

You see, for something that supposedly holds us back, it's quite remarkable how many of us are quite happy to hold our hands up and say we're perfectionists. But there's an interesting and serious point because our begrudging admiration for perfection is so pervasive that we never really stop to question that concept in its own terms. What does it say about us and our society that there is a kind of celebration in perfection?

像这样会阻碍我们进步的东西,很明显,有如此多的人非常乐意举起手承认我们是完美主义者。但一个有趣和严肃的观点是,因为我们对完美的艳羡是如此普遍,以致我们从没真正停下来质疑这个观点本身。我们和我们的社会存在颂扬完美的现象说明了什么?

We tend to hold perfectionism up as an insignia of worth. The emblem of the successful. Yet, in my time studying perfectionism, I've seen limited evidence that perfectionists are more successful. Quite the contrary -- they feel discontented and dissatisfied amid a lingering sense that they're never quite perfect enough. We know from clinician case reports that perfectionism conceals a host of psychological difficulties, including things like depression, anxiety, anorexia, bulimia and even suicide ideation. And what's more worrying is that over the last 25 years, we have seen perfectionism rise at an alarming rate. And at the same time, we have seen more mental illness among young people than ever before. Rates of suicide in the US alone increased by 25 percent across the last two decades. And we're beginning to see similar trends emerge across Canada, and in my home country, the United Kingdom.

我们倾向于把完美主义作为价值的象征,成功的象征。然而,在我研究完美主义的过程中,我很少看到有证据表明,完美主义者会更加成功。恰恰相反——他们感到失落和不满,处于一种挥之不去的不完美感觉之中。我们从临床病例报告中得知,完美主义掩盖了许多心理上的问题,包括抑郁,焦虑,厌食症,暴食症甚至是自杀的想法。更让人担忧的是在过去25年中,我们看到完美主义出现的频率以惊人的速度上升。同时,我们在年轻人中看到的精神疾病病例比以往任何时候都多。仅是美国的自杀率在过去20年间就上升了25%。我们在加拿大和我的祖国英国也看到了类似的趋势。

Now, our research is suggesting that perfectionism is rising as society is changing. And a changed society reflects a changed sense of personal identity and, with it, differences in the way in which young people interact with each other and the world around them. And there are some unique characteristics about our preeminent, market-based society that include things like unrestricted choice and personal freedom, and these are characteristics that we feel are contributing to almost epidemic levels of this problem.

我们的研究显示随着社会的发展,完美主义的现象也层出不穷。社会的变化反映了个人认同感的变化,同时,也带来了年轻人之间,以及他们与周围环境互动方式的差异。我们这个卓越的、以市场为基础的社会有一些独特的特征,包括不受限制的选择和个人自由,我们认为这些特征导致了这个问题的流行程度。

So let me give you an example. Young people today are more preoccupied with the attainment of the perfect life and lifestyle. In terms of their image, status and wealth. Data from Pew show that young people born in the US in the late 1980s are 20 percent more likely to report being materially rich as among their most important life goals, relative to their parents and their grandparents. Young people also borrow more heavily than did older generations, and they spend a much greater proportion of their income on image goods and status possessions. These possessions, their lives and their lifestyles are now displayed in vivid detail on the ubiquitous social media platforms of Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat. In this new visual culture, the appearance of perfection is far more important than the reality.

让我给你们举个例子。今天的年轻人更专注于追求完美的生活和生活方式,也就是个人形象,地位和财富方面的影响力。皮尤数据显示,出生于80年代晚期的美国年轻人认为物质富裕是他们最重要的人生目标的人数比例比他们的父辈和祖辈高出了20%。年轻人也比老一代人借贷更多,他们把收入的很大一部分花在形象商品和身份财产上。这些财产,他们的生活和生活方式如今非常生动地展示在无处不在的InstagramFacebook和SnapChat等社交媒体上。在这个新的视觉文化中,完美的外表远比现实重要。

If one side of the modern landscape that we have so lavishly furnished for young people is this idea that there's a perfectible life and that there's a perfectible lifestyle, then the other is surely work. Nothing is out of reach for those who want it badly enough. Or so we're told. This is the idea at the heart of the American dream. Opportunity, meritocracy, the self-made person, hard work. The notion that hard work always pays off. And above all, the idea that we're captains of our own destiny. These ideas, they connect our wealth, our status and our image with our innate, personal value.

如果我们为年轻人提供的现代景观的一面是如此的奢华,即有一种完美的生活,有一种完美的生活方式,那么另一面就肯定是工作。对于那些迫切需要它的人来说,没有什么是遥不可及的。至少人们是这样告诉我们的。这是美国梦的核心思想。机遇、任人唯贤、自力更生、努力工作。天道酬勤的观念。最重要的是我们对自己命运的主宰。这些观念将我们的财富、地位和形象与我们与生俱来的个人价值联系起来。

But it is, of course, complete fiction. Because even if there were equality of opportunity, the idea that we are captains of our own destiny disguises a much darker reality for young people that they are subject to an almost ongoing economic tribunal. Metrics, rankings, lead tables have emerged as the yardsticks for which merit can be quantified and used to sort young people into schools, classes and colleges.

当然,这完全是梦幻泡影。因为即便有平等的机会,我们有主宰自己命运的想法仍然为年轻人掩盖了一个更为黑暗的事实,那就是他们受制于一个几乎正在进行的经济评判。指标、排名、排名表已经成为衡量学生成绩的标准,并被用来将年轻人在校园中划分等级。

Education is the first arena where measurement is so publicly played out and where metrics are being used as a tool to improve standards and performance. And it starts young. Young people in America's big city high schools take some 112 mandatory standardized tests between prekindergarten and the end of 12th grade. No wonder young people report a strong need to strive, perform and achieve at the center of modern life. They've been conditioned to define themselves in the strict and narrow terms of grades, percentiles and lead tables.

教育是第一竞技场,在那里测验是如此的公开,度量指标被用来当作工具去提升标准和表现。人们小小年纪就要经历这样一个过程。在美国大城市的高中生,从学前班到12年级结束,总共要参加112次强制性标准化考试。难怪年轻人报告说,在现代生活的中心有一种强烈的奋斗、表现和成就的需要。他们习惯于用严格而狭隘的分数、百分位数和排名表来定义自己。

This is a society that preys on their insecurities. Insecurities about how they are performing and how they are appearing to other people. This is a society that amplifies their imperfections. Every flaw, every unforeseen setback increases a need to perform more perfectly next time, or else, bluntly, you're a failure. That feeling of being flawed and deficient is especially pervasive -- just talk to young people. "How should I look, how should I behave?" "I should look like that model, I should have as many followers as that Instagram influencer, I must do better in school."

这是一个以他们的不安全感为食的社会。他们对自己的表现以及自己在别人眼中的形象缺乏安全感。这是一个放大他们不完美的社会。每一个缺点,每一个意想不到的挫折,都增加了下一次要表现更完美的需要,否则,坦率地说,你就是一个失败者。这种缺陷和不足的感受尤其明显——只需要跟年轻人聊聊就知道。“我该怎么看,我该怎么做?”“我应该像那个模特,我的粉丝应该像那个Instagram上的意见领袖一样多,我必须在学校做得更好。”

In my role as mentor to many young people, I see these lived effects of perfectionism firsthand. And one student sticks out in my mind very vividly. John, not his real name, was ambitious, hardworking and diligent and on the surface, he was exceptionally high-achieving, often getting first-class grades for his work. Yet, no matter how well John achieved, he always seemed to recast his successes as abject failures, and in meetings with me, he would talk openly about how he'd let himself and others down. John's justification was quite simple: How could he be a success when he was trying so much harder than other people just to attain the same outcomes?

在为很多年轻人做导师的角色中,我亲眼看到了完美主义这些活生生的影响。有一个学生我仍然记忆犹新。约翰(不是真名)是个雄心勃勃,勤奋好学的人,并且从表面上看,他有非常高的成就,常常成绩排名第一。然而,不管约翰取得了多大的成绩,他似乎总是把自己的成就视为可悲的失败,在与我交谈时,他会公开谈论他是如何令自己和他人失望的。约翰的理由很简单:他比别人努力那么多,却只获得同样的成绩,这怎么能叫成功呢?

See, John's perfectionism, his unrelenting work ethic, was only serving to expose what he saw as his inner weakness to himself and to others. Cases like John's speak to the harmfulness of perfectionism as a way of being in the world. Contrary to popular belief, perfectionism is never about perfecting things or perfecting tasks. It's not about striving for excellence. John's case highlights this vividly. At its root, perfectionism is about perfecting the self. Or, more precisely, perfecting an imperfect self.  

这就是约翰的完美主义,他坚持不懈的工作理念只是在向自己和他人暴露他内心的弱点。像约翰这样的例子说明了完美主义作为一种生存方式的危害性。与普遍的看法恰恰相反,完美主义从来不是关于完善事物或完成任务。这跟追求卓越无关。约翰的案例生动地说明了这一点。根源上讲,完美主义在于完善自我。或者,更准确地说,是完善不完美的自己。

And you can think about it like a mountain of achievement that perfectionism leads us to imagine ourselves scaling. And we think to ourselves, "Once I've reached that summit, then people will see I'm not flawed, and I'll be worth something." But what perfectionism doesn't tell us is that soon after reaching that summit, we will be called down again to the fresh lowlands of insecurity and shame, just to try and scale that peak again. This is the cycle of self-defeat. In the pursuit of unattainable perfection, a perfectionist just cannot step off. And it's why it's so difficult to treat.

你可以把它想像成一座成就的大山,完美主义让我们想象自己在扩张。我们对自己说,“一旦我抵达巅峰,那么人们就会认为我是完美的,我是有价值的。”但完美主义不会告诉我的是,一旦我们抵达那个巅峰,我们将再次被召唤到不安全与耻辱的新低地,只得再次攀登那个高峰。这就是自我挫败的循环。在追求无法达到的完美时,完美主义者就是走不出来。这就是为什么很难治疗。

Now, we've known for decades and decades that perfectionism contributes to a host of psychological problems, but there was never a good way to measure it. That was until the late 1980s when two Canadians, Paul Hewitt and Gordon Flett, came along and developed a self-report measure of perfectionism. So that's right, folks, you can measure this, and it essentially captures three core elements of perfectionism. The first is self-oriented perfectionism, the irrational desire to be perfect: "I strive to be as perfect as I can be." The second is socially prescribed perfectionism, the sense that the social environment is excessively demanding: "I feel that others are too demanding of me." And the third is other-oriented perfectionism, the imposition of unrealistic standards on other people: "If I ask somebody to do something, I expect it to be done perfectly."

尽管我们已经知道几十年了,完美主义会导致一系列的心理问题,但从来没有一个好方法能衡量它。直到1980年代晚期,当时有两个加拿大人,保罗·休伊特和戈登·弗雷特,发明了一种自我报告的完美主义评估方法。没错,各位,完美主义是可以评估的,它本质上是抓住了完美主义的三个核心要素。第一个是自我导向型的完美主义,追求完美的非理性欲望:“我要努力做到尽可能完美。”第二种是社会定向型完美主义,对社会环境对他们要求过高的感觉:“我感到其他人对我要求太高了。”第三种是其他导向型的完美主义,把不切实际的标准强加于人:“假如我让人做事情,我期待结果是完美的。”

Now, research shows that all three elements of perfectionism associate with compromised mental health, including things like heightened depression, heightened anxiety and suicide ideation. But, by far, the most problematic element of perfectionism is socially prescribed perfectionism. That sense that everyone expects me to be perfect. This element of perfectionism has a large correlation with serious mental illness. And with today's emphasis on perfection at the forefront of my mind, I was curious to see whether these elements of perfectionism were changing.

研究显示这三种完美主义要素与精神健康受损相关,包括高度抑郁,高度焦虑和自杀意愿。但是,到目前为止,完美主义最成问题的要素是社会定向型的完美主义。那种对每个人都期待我完美的感觉。这种完美主义要素与严重的精神疾病有很大的关系。今天我把对完美的强调放在了首位,我很好奇这些完美主义的要素是否在改变。

To date, research in this area is focused on immediate family relations, but we wanted to look at it at a broader level. So we took all of the data that had ever been collected in the 27 years since Paul and Gordon developed that perfectionism measure, and we isolated the data in college students. This turned out to be more than 40,000 young people from American, Canadian and British colleges, and with so much data available, we looked to see if there was a trend. And in all, it took us more than three years to collate all of this information, crunch the numbers, and write our report. But it was worth it because our analysis uncovered something alarming. All three elements of perfectionism have increased over time. But socially prescribed perfectionism saw the largest increase, and by far.

迄今为止,这一领域的研究主要集中在直系亲属关系方面,但我们想在更广泛的层面看这个问题。所以我们收集了自保罗和戈登提出完美主义测量方法以来的27年里的所有数据,并且单独分析了大学生的数据。结果发现有超过4万位来自美国,加拿大和英国大学的年轻人,有这么多数据在手,我们开始观察是否存在趋势。我们总共花了三年多的时间去收集,批量处理这些数据,并撰写我们的报告。但这是值得的,因为我们的分析揭开了一些让人警醒的事情。所有这三个完美主义要素都在随着时间增长。但目前看,社会定向型的完美主义增长最快。

In 1989, just nine percent of young people report clinically relevant levels of socially prescribed perfectionism. Those are levels that we might typically see in clinical populations. By 2017, that figure had doubled to 18 percent. And by 2050, projections based on the models that we tested indicate that almost one in three young people will report clinically relevant levels of socially prescribed perfectionism. Remember, this is the element of perfectionism that has the largest correlation with serious mental illness, and that's for good reason.

在1989年,只有9%的年轻人报告达到临床程度的社会定向型完美主义。这些水平在临床人群中非常常见。到2017年,这个数据翻倍到18%。到2050年,基于我们测试的模型预估,几乎3个年轻人中就有1个人会报告临床水平相关的社会定向型完美主义。记住,这种要素的完美主义跟严重的精神疾病有最大的相关性,而且这是有原因的。

Socially prescribed perfectionists feel a unrelenting need to meet the expectations of other people. And even if they do meet yesterday's expectation of perfection, they then raise the bar on themselves to an even higher degree because these folks believe that the better they do, the better that they're expected to do. This breeds a profound sense of helplessness and, worse, hopelessness.

社会定向型完美主义者感到一种无休止的满足其他人期望的需求。即便他们达到了满足昨天对完美的期望,他们也会把标准提到更高的程度,因为这些人相信他们做得越好,他们就被期望做得越好。这孕育了深深的无助感,甚至更糟糕,绝望感。

But is there hope? Of course there's hope. Perfectionists can and should hold on to certain things -- they are typically bright, ambitious, conscientious and hardworking. And yes, treatment is complex. But a little bit of self-compassion, going easy on ourselves when things don't go well, can turn those qualities into greater personal peace and success. And then there's what we can do as caregivers.

还有希望吗?当然存在希望。完美主义能够,也应该坚持特定的事情——通常是聪明、有抱负、认真、勤奋。是的,治疗是复杂的。但要有一点自我宽慰,当事情不顺利的时候对自己宽容一点,可以把这些品质更多地转化为个人平静和成功。我们作为护理人员也可以有所行动。

Perfectionism develops in our formative years, and so young people are more vulnerable. Parents can help their children by supporting them unconditionally when they've tried but failed. And Mom and Dad can resist their understandable urge in today's highly competitive society to helicopter-parent, as a lot of anxiety is communicated when parents take on their kids' successes and failures as their own.

完美主义是在我们性格形成阶段形成的,所以年轻人更容易受到伤害。当他们努力过但却失败时,父母可以无条件的支持他们的孩子。在当今激烈竞争的社会中,父母们可以尽量避免成为望子成龙的直升机父母,当父母把孩子的成败当作自己的事情时,会给孩子带来很多焦虑。

But ultimately, our research raises important questions about how we are structuring society and whether our society's heavy emphasis on competition, evaluation and testing is benefiting young people. It's become commonplace for public figures to say that young people just need a little bit more resilience in the face of these new and unprecedented pressures. But I believe that is us washing our hands of the core issue because we have a shared responsibility to create a society and a culture in which young people need less perfection in the first place.

但最终,我们的研究提出了我们如何构建社会和我们的社会过度强调竞争,评估和测试是否有利于年轻人这个重要的问题。公众人物常说,面对这些前所未有的新压力,年轻人需要更强的适应力。但我认为,这恰恰表明了我们在逃避核心问题,因为我们首先有共同的责任去创造一个年轻人不需要感觉必须那么完美的社会和文化。

Let's not kid ourselves. Creating that kind of world is an enormous challenge, and for a generation of young people that live their lives in the 24/7 spotlight of metrics, lead tables and social media, perfectionism is inevitable, so long as they lack any purpose in life greater than how they are appearing or how they are performing to other people.

别自欺欺人了。创造这样一个世界对一代年轻人来说是一个巨大的挑战,他们生活在无时无刻不在的指标,排名表和社交媒体的聚光灯下,完美主义是不可避免的,只要他们在生活中缺乏比他们的外表或在他人面前的表现更重要的目标。

What can they do about it? Every time they are knocked down from that mountaintop, they see no other option but to try scaling that peak again. The ancient Greeks knew that this endless struggle up and down the same mountain is not the road to happiness. Their image of hell was a man called Sisyphus, doomed for eternity to keep rolling the same boulder up a hill, only to see it roll back down and have to start again. So long as we teach young people that there is nothing more real or meaningful in their lives than this hopeless quest for perfection, then we are going to condemn future generations to that same futility and despair.

他们能做什么呢?每次当他们从巅峰跌落,他们看不到其他选项,只得努力再次攀登那个高峰。古希腊人知道,在同一座山上上上下下不是通向幸福的道路。他们对地狱的想象是一个叫西西弗斯的人,注定要永远把同一块巨石推上山,只能眼睁睁看着它一次次滚下来,并不得不重新再来。只要我们教年轻人在他们的生活中,没有什么比这种无望的追求完美更真实或更有意义的事情,而我们将使后代遭受同样的徒劳和绝望。

And so we're left with a question. When are we going to appreciate that there is something fundamentally inhuman about limitless perfection? No one is flawless. If we want to help our young people escape the trap of perfectionism, then we will teach them that in a chaotic world, life will often defeat us, but that's OK. Failure is not weakness. If we want to help our young people outgrow this self-defeating snare of impossible perfection, then we will raise them in a society that has outgrown that very same delusion.

那么我们还要面对一个问题。我们什么时候才能意识到无限的完美本质上是违反人性的?人无完人。如果我们想要帮助我们的年轻人逃出完美主义的陷阱,那么就要告诉他们,在这个混乱的世界中,我们常常会遭遇挫折,但没关系。失败不是软弱。如果我们想帮助我们的年轻人摆脱这种不可能完美的自我挫败的陷阱,我们就需要在一个不再抱有同样幻想的社会中抚养他们。

But most of all, if we want our young people to enjoy mental, emotional and psychological health, then we will invite them to celebrate the joys and the beauties of imperfection as a normal and natural part of everyday living and loving.

但最重要的是,如果我们想要年轻人享受精神上,情感上心理健康上的快乐,那么我们就要邀请他们去赞美和接纳不完美,把它作为日常生活和关爱中正常而自然的一部分。

Thank you very much.

谢谢大家。


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