Fact or fiction?
We all hold beliefs about the “right” way that things should be done and the “right” way to behave. These beliefs can be about simple tasks such as making the bed, tidying up and showering to more complex activities such as doing well in your studies.
Behind such beliefs are often other beliefs about the “facts” of the situation. For example, you might believe it to be a “fact” that if you shower for 5 minutes then you are just as clean as if you shower for 20 minutes.
You might believe that if you leave breakfast dishes out for a couple of hours, the food will attract flies and ants. Or that students who stay up past midnight to study are the ones who top their class. When you’re thinking about making changes to your personal standards and behaviour, it’s important to know if your beliefs are fact and fiction.
“The harder you work, the better you’ll do” - Fact or fiction?
Have you been told that we could achieve more if we worked harder? Have your teachers written a report saying that your grades could be improved with a little more effort? Is this true?
While it makes sense that someone who puts in no work will do poorer than someone who puts in a great amount of work, it does not follow that the harder you work, practise or train, the better you do! To do well, it is necessary to put in some effort but other factors play a part too e.g. personal interest, ability, class size, support from loved ones, mental health. Putting in too much effort may be unhelpful, especially when you are working too hard and end up tired.
A common example is overtraining among athletes. Athletes with perfectionism will often overtrain, adding extra training sessions on top of what their coach advises. Often, they believe that they will only do well if they train harder than others because they are naturally less able than others.
The problem is that there is only a certain amount of training athletes can do before they become exhausted and their body gets injured e.g. stress fractures from running too much, which can put them out of training instead. So is it better to use the perfectionist drive to do ever more work and over-train, or a more balanced approach to train with enough rest days and follow the coach’s advice?