Perfectionism. Conjures up a whole range of emotions. Kinda makes you feel anxious and guilty. It’s a hard taskmaster who is never satisfied or pleased. It is the nasty twin of Excellence. Nothing is ever quite good enough to receive that seal of approval. In its wake are half completed or “never out of the gate” goals or dreams. And probably should receive the title of “the mother of procrastination”.
MY SCARY TALE
I walked down the hall and opened the door. I realized I shouldn’t have done that!
I have a 14 year old…a teenage boy. Need I say more? I shook my head and shut the door. I glanced into the game room. Probably shouldn’t have done that either. I should really keep up with these rooms better.
I headed down the stairs. Doesn’t anybody know how to put away the box of cereal and throw out the empty gallon of milk? And, look at these sofa pillows on the floor… The floors. Why can’t people take their shoes off and put the pillows back on the couch after the movie?!? Truthfully, why didn’t I get this cleaned up last night before bed? If I would just stay on top of things, it wouldn’t look like this!
Everybody knows I stay at home and educate my children. What would they think if they saw the house like this? I am such a poor home manager.
And speaking of homeschooling…..I just know my kids are gonna be the ones that aren’t “smarter” than the average kid. For goodness sake, they all have to be so we can prove homeschooling is better! I am failing! They don’t take Latin and we don’t finish all their subjects every day.
Speaking of deadlines! I guess that bill is gonna be late! Out of the corner of my eye I see the little gift left behind by our adorable four legged baby. Should have trained her better. Oh yeah….that blog post….why didn’t I catch that glaring grammatical error?
Get it together, sister!!
Sounds fun, doesn’t it? Well, that’s my brain stuck on perfectionism.
And, I’m not exaggerating….not by much, anyway. You should live in this head of mine when perfectionism has moved in and has set up housekeeping.
I imagine there are quite a few of you in the same boat.
I was told once that maybe I should try thinking,
“I am okay just the way I am, but I can do better.”
I have learned that comparing myself to others leads to one of two things. One, it leads to pride. I decide I am indeed better than my comparison. Or, two, I conclude that I leave a lot to be desired and fail miserably. Before I know it, I am on my way to a toxic lifestyle. What a slippery slope! From there, my day-to-day life is spent on the merry-go-round of the unachievable.
I can’t imagine perfectionism is very good for the heart and soul, much less the mind. I realized I needed to give myself room to be human. Not only do I carry that for myself, I find I expect it from my crew. My family needs me to conquer this thinking.
One day my sweet song bird told me nothing she does for me is ever good enough.
That hit me between my eyes. It hit me hard.
I didn’t even realize what I was doing to her. Who wants to try anything or help out when they know it will just have to be done again?
Somewhere along the line, I felt my self-worth depended on how well I put my house together or how cute my kids looked or how smart they appeared to be. After all, this is what I do. This is my job. If I am going to do something, I better do it right the first time….with extra effort for good measure! Too much comparison was going on!
I believe excellence is attainable.
I think as Christ followers we should strive to do excellent work. The tricky part is when the shift happens.
Excellence shifts over to perfectionism and our self-worth soon becomes based on our performance. And, not only does it damage our own spirit, but it is toxic to those we lead or do life with.
No one can really achieve perfection and still keep margin and peace. What relationships are damaged and what hearts, beside our own, are we stomping to death? We beat ourselves up and our loved ones get caught in the fight.
What can I do today to kick perfectionism in the teeth?
- Be aware of the comparison trap. What circumstances, stressors or frustrations make me more vulnerable to comparison?
- Be aware of the control trap. Insecurity begs for control. Relinquishing control can be freeing. Life can be beautiful, even if I’m not in charge!
- Be aware of the mind chatter. I would never let someone talk to my friends or family like I talk to myself. I deserve grace, too. And in large doses!
Grace is a wonderful healer of wounds.
Whose standard am you striving to live up to? Who are you trying to copy? What negative messages are tearing you down? And what arbitrary deadline are you living under…..thinking if you don’t get this task done today and to this highest standard, you will be marked as the failure of all.
Perfectionism is a harsh taskmaster. Please give me grace!