Perfectionism – Definition from Merriam-Webster:
- a: the doctrine that the perfection of moral character constitutes a person’s highest good b: the theological doctrine that a state of freedom from sin is attainable on earth
- a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable
The following is a list of things that the lie of perfectionism, or needing to appear perfect, suffers us to do:
- It causes us to be fake, or someone we really aren’t, for fear of being found “less than” or lacking.
- It keeps relationships shallow.
- It promotes jealousy between women rather than support.
- It leaves us feeling isolated.
- It makes it hard to admit our faults to one another and to say those dreaded words, “I’m sorry.”
- It makes us defensive toward those we love when they question us about anything.
- It makes us controlling of our spouses and children because they must act perfect too as we somehow think that their less than perfect behavior reflects badly on us.
- In the workplace . . . it causes undue STRESS as we place unrealistic expectations on ourselves or believe we must rise up to the unrealistic expectations of others.
- In the church . . . it causes us to hide our faults rather than admit our faults to one another for healing (James 5:16).
- In the neighborhood . . . it causes rifts between neighbors and pits our children against their children.
UGH! Stop! Enough already, right?
The Bible (Matt. 5:48) says, “Be holy as I am holy.” What? How can we ever be as perfect as God? The Greek word – telios – mean to be completed, as we are in Christ. Situationally we are cleansed and made perfect through Christ’s death on the cross. Positionally, it is a process, this whole thing of “being transformed from glory to glory” (II Cor. 3:18).
Perfectionism can become overwhelming when any of the following are added into the mix of our perfect lives: major life changes, financial issues, the demands of work or school, family issues, relationship problems, health problems, and overbooked schedules.
We try and we fail. We become angry at ourselves for our failures (which stems from fear by the way). Anger turned inward becomes bitterness, resentment, anxiety, depression, and self-hatred. Ultimately, the stress caused by perfectionism can cause various emotional, behavioral and physical illnesses to manifest over time.
Perfectionism is a prison!
When we are trapped in the prison of perfectionism what are we to do?
Steps to overcoming Perfectionism:
- Learn to say, “No.” Take on only what is reasonable for you to do well (we are all different and have different levels of stress we can handle).
- Do less better.
- Dump the “all or nothing” mentality. – What things do you need to let go of to move forward?
- Embrace mistakes or imperfections as learning tools.
- Stop picking on yourself and accept yourself just the way God made you. Anything less is questioning God.
- Accept that there will be stops and starts along the way as life happens.
- Accept that you are a work in progress and God isn’t finished with you yet.
- Allow yourself to be human, even embracing your imperfections.
- Laugh at yourself – I’ve found over the years that it is far better to laugh at my mistakes and give others a good laugh as well.
- Realize that you can’t be a success at everything you do. Becoming successful at one thing means being unsuccessful at another. Simply put, you can’t do it all!
- Remove what is irrelevant or unnecessary from your life.
- Embrace your uniqueness in who God created you to be rather than trying to be what the world and those around you tell you you should be.
- Be kind and compassionate to one another (Eph 4:32). Be kind and compassionate to yourself.
- Be willing to accept a ‘B’. This is a really good one and a lesson taught in Freedom Session. I’d go further and say to sometimes even be willing to accept a ‘C’.
- Replace negative thoughts about yourself by meditating on who God says you are in Scripture, thereby transforming your way of thinking and your mind (Romans 12:2). A complete list of Scriptures to meditate on can be found in a previous FF post right HERE.
If you are one who struggles with perfectionism please don’t wait to get the help you need. I’m certainly not PERFECT AT BEING IMPERFECT yet, because that too is a process, but the difference that a different attitude has made in my life and my marriage is remarkable. Life can be so full and so enjoyable when we are able to be real and lighten up on the expectations we place on ourselves. It is such freedom to finally rid yourself of those things that encumber you and weigh you down, to become the REAL you, the YOU that God created you to be.
PRAYER: Forgive us Lord for believing the lie of perfectionism and for the pride that we’ve clung to in our quest to attain it. Thank you that you know every single imperfection and that you love us anyway – with a love that is everlasting. Thank you that when we humble ourselves before you and admit our failures you delight in restoring us. Help us Lord Jesus to CEASE STRIVING and KNOW that You are God over all our circumstances.
Blessings friends 😉
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