Getting good grades, academic or athletic honors and receiving parental praise can make you feel valued and good about yourself. It’s fun to win, to be the best or to be deemed number one. Still, it’s difficult to continually improve or become better than you previously were. Since perfectionists place no end point of absolute perfection, goals continue to grow, becoming impossible to achieve. Striving for perfection is like trying to be God. Perfection is unattainable, and therefore striving for it can be very destructive and harmful. Satan tries to convince us that we are supposed to be able to achieve everything we set our minds to with our own strength; instead, we are supposed to learn, which involves making mistakes, so we can grow and rely on God.
Perfectionism can trigger a vicious cycle of self-defeating behaviors and unhappiness. Trying to be as thin as an uber-lithe friend, as athletic as a sports-savvy sibling or as super smart as a study-happy cousin is a recipe for disaster.
Accolades and Affirmation
Perfectionists are often addicted to the rush that comes with receiving accolades. They are extremely sensitive to others’ achievements and feel continual pressure to achieve bigger and better things than they did previously. They don’t feel that they’re ever good enough.
Fears of Failure
Many irrational beliefs contribute to perfectionism. Perfectionists often dwell on their mistakes and focus on their flaws and failures. Many perfectionists don’t give themselves credit for the time, effort and work they do. They always feel that success is only attainable once a certain goal is reached.
Consequences of Perfectionism
There are many negative consequences to perfectionist behavior:
- Low Self-Worth
- Guilt and Shame
- Compulsive Behavior
Perfectionism can manifest itself psychologically and physically. Those struggling with perfectionist tendencies can begin to use drugs, develop eating disorders or even drop out of school for fear of failure.
Perfectionism can be overcome. A good attitude, strong social support and the ability to laugh at mistakes are absolute musts in order to live a healthy and happy, well-adjusted and perfectionist-free life. Find freedom from to-do lists and unhealthy expectations by working through the following five steps:
Measure Your Worth
Everyone fears failure and most people have many insecurities. Start the day by claiming great truths about life. These truth
s will help you measure your worth based on God’s love for you… He would have sent His one and only son to die for just you, that’s how significant His love for you truly is.
Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”
Romans 8:31 says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
End your day by listing all the things you are thankful for and accomplished that day, big or small.
Let God be Your Strength
The people who are successful in life don’t fight their weaknesses but celebrate their strengths. God is our strength, so hand over weaknesses and failures to God and let Him take on the burden. Let God demonstrate His strength through human imperfections.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
We are not supposed to be strong at everything. Knowing your own strengths and their corresponding weaknesses is part of our unique design as humans. The knowledge of our strengths and weaknesses can lead us to a life of humility.
A Canadian study recently identified three types of perfectionism:
Perfectionism towards one’s self: This person fusses over details, takes on too many responsibilities and tries to be the best at everything they attempt.
Perfectionism towards others: This involves a person who creates conflict in relationships with others and has unrealistic demands and expectations.
Perfectionist who is pressured by societal values: This type feels she must constantly achieve and meet high societal standards and must shape herself according to cultural ideals. She often overworks herself in attempts to reach those standards.
Affirming Not Necessary
Experience love through avenues other than praise and affirmation. See what it’s like to serve others and put their needs first; give friends hugs and massages to show them care; spend some time just chatting it up with a friend over ice cream; or make some tokens of appreciation for those who dedicate their lives toward helping you become a strong and capable person.
Laugh at Your Mistakes
Find joy in situations that used to bring despair. Lightening the mood through laughter will help lighten the heart and eventually lighten the load of burdens and stress carried.
Ask for Help
It’s okay to seek the help and advice of others. Their ideas may even become major breakthroughs. God doesn’t want perfectionists to work through life alone, so accomplish great things in community.