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Monday, September 17, 2012

Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 1)

Well, it's pretty fitting that I haven't posted this until now (though I started it back in April) because I wanted to get it "just right." But, I've gotten to the point where I just need to get it out there. I'm never done learning, so all of what I write is unfinished.

Perfectionism is "a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable; especially: the setting of unrealistically demanding goals accompanied by a disposition to regard failure to achieve them as unacceptable and a sign of personal worthlessness."
"Perfectionism is the need to be - or to appear - perfect. Perfectionists are persistent, detailed and organized high achievers. They vary in their behaviors; some strive to conceal their imperfections, others attempt to project an image of perfection. But all have in common extremely high standards for themselves or for others. Perfectionism is not officially recognized as a psychiatric disorder. However extreme forms of perfectionism should be considered an illness similar to narcissism, obsessive compulsiveness, dependent-personality disorder and other personality disorders because of their links to distress and dysfunction” - Gordon Flett, professor of psychology at York University in Toronto
Our society seems to support the idea or belief of perfectionism, and imperfection is viewed negatively. But, perfection is merely the idea of a perceived ideal state. It's not attainable, and yet we strive to be perfect.

I've struggled with perfectionism for the majority of my life. I often keep myself in this vicious cycle of setting unreachable goals and then failing to attain them (even before my accident, when I wasn't limited in the ways I am now). I place constant pressure on myself, becoming self-critical and anxious, which has often lead to depression. Thankfully, I'm (slowly) learning to ease up on myself.

I've always tried to do everything myself, my way. Perfectionism is self-reliance that has gone too far (that's gone amuck). I've always had this need to at least feel a sense of control, which I can now see kept me from really letting go and handing things over to God... I always tried to hold on to it, just a little. I've been able to let go of much more than I used to (still a learning process), and it's truly liberating!
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13)
Living life striving for perfection keeps us from ever truly feeling a sense of happiness and satisfaction. How can you enjoy the present moment, if your mind is constantly planning and thinking about the future... or thinking about what went wrong in the past? I've struggled so much with this... struggling to feel satisfaction or contentment because my perception is always clouded by perfectionism. But, there is no peace in a life striving for perfection.

All of this is not to say that we shouldn't strive to do well and be the best we can be. But, there's a very fine (yet life-changing) line between striving for excellence and striving for perfection.

Lessons Series:

Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 2)
Lessons: From Suffering to Empowered
Lessons: Learning From Life With Chronic Pain
Lessons: Finding Joy

Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 1)
Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 2)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 2)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 3)

1 comment:

  1. I struggle with this also. Battling against it is a constant work in progress.

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