Firstly, let me clear up that the reason I’m writing this is because of my own perfectionist tendencies that I am in the process of journeying through.
Let me also clear up that perfectionism is NOT a desirable trait. Our social media tendencies and consumerist driven culture imply that ‘having it all’ is the goal of life – and that it’s possible full stop! I.e. buy the next thing, get the next job, look a certain way and you’ll be a heck of a lot closer to ‘perfection’.
|Here's a perfectly captured image for you to mull over.|
Now healthy striving and conscientiousness is great, fantastic, admirable but when we base our esteem and identity on our constant pursuit for achievement, then we’re in trouble!
“Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order” – Anne Wilson Shaef
Seem a bit OTT? Let’s explore what perfectionism actually looks like:
Basing your self-esteem on whether you meet the impossibly tough goals/standards you set for yourself that aren’t practically achievable.
Do you see how that is like a self-fulfilling cycle of discontent? Like we’ll never see the top of the ladder…Kinda make sense?
So this may look like unrealistically high self-image standards, work standards, school standards, expectations of other people and/or over-focusing on mistakes and constantly trying to avoid the harsh standards of others, thus, strive for acceptance.
I mean I can see myself appearing at some level in a few of those categories…So what’s the problem with this kind of living?
According to Will Van der Hart and Rob Walker in ‘The Perfectionism Book’ (*highly recommend*), it consequently affects our feelings (anxiety, depression), bodily sensations (muscle tension, poor sleep…), brain functions (poor concentration, worry, low self-esteem), and behaviours (self-isolating, avoidance, over-exercising, narrow hobbies…)
Don’t panic. It’s a process and a journey.
For now, remember: strive healthily.
I hate to say it, but we're imperfect beings. Made whole through our relationship with God. We weren't made to rely on ourselves.
"Jesus had come into the imperfection of our lives to demonstrate his power to save: we are delivered from our lives of brokenness because of God's love, not because of our goodness of merit." - Will Van der Hart
I believe I’m likely to have convinced you about ‘what’s so bad about trying to be perfect’…so for now, I’ll leave you with my thoughts. But – I’ll be back soon don’t you worry…
I'll keep you posted.