So how do we recognise perfectionists and why is it damaging to our health? Depression, anxiety, OCD, low self esteem…..all common amongst perfectionists.
A few weeks ago, I was lying in bed with a thumping headache. I’d been writing an essay which I had finished at tea time. Instead of putting the essay away, I went through it again…and again…and again! I put in extra quotes and rewrote sentences. I did a bit more research to include in the essay, it had to be the best it could possibly be! Finally, it was past midnight and my essay was perfect! Yay! The problem though, was I ended up with a thumping headache. This is the result of perfection driving me. Can you relate? Writing an amazing essay gives me that feeling of success and achievement. Have I been behaving like this my whole life? How many times have I been late to church because my outfit just doesn’t look right? How many times have I felt bad about myself because i’ve said something wrong to someone? I’ve replayed a conversation in my head and wished I’d said something different.
It’s time to change.
The personality of a perfectionist:
You continually judge yourself and the world around you, condemning yourself when your life falls short of the image and the belief system you hold of what your life should look like. Perfectionists focus on your failings and discount successes. You unknowingly become self abusive, listening to the inner critic telling you you’re failing. You’re not pretty enough, slim enough, clever enough, funny enough….This leads to endless frustration and never-ending hopelessness. Never content with the status quo. You’re always striving to be better. This irrational desire to be perfect puts pressure on yourself to be a certain way. The perfect friend, spouse, parent, employee. The person who’s doing life right. The person who everyone wants to know and be like. You perfect your imperfect self, controlling the way people see you.
2. You spend excessive amounts of time on your tasks, even getting dressed into the perfect outfit or fine tooth combing emails. Continually over-working and re-doing tasks, you don’t know when to stop. Your mantra is “it must be perfect”
Key Issue: It’s unconcious. You’ve behaved like this your wholes life, you just don’t recognise it.
The inner stress of this pandemic is making us ill and our bodies are suffering because of all the internal pressure. The chaos we’ve created indicates we need stillness. We need rest.
It’s time for us to stop trying, and start believing in God’s love and goodness towards us. This verse tells us that the only striving we need to do, is to enter his rest! Wow!
“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” Eph 2:6
We are already seated with Jesus, the place of rest. The more we understand and embrace our position, the more we rest inwardly and operate from that place of peace. The more we feel good about ourselves, the more we realise we’ve got nothing to prove.
“When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied…” Deut 6:10-11
This is where we are! We don’t have to do anything to arrive here, this is where we are now. The land of rest, of peace, of abundance. Isn’t this incredible news?! The Israelites wondered for 40 years in the Wilderness. They didn’t trust or believe that God had provided everything for them. They were physically free from Egypt, but still had a slave mentality.
Being a perfectionist is a slave mentality.
The Bible says you’re already a success. Look at the story of Joseph. He had nothing, no family, no friends, no money, no job, in fact he didn’t have any clothes!! Yet God called him a success. I love this!
“The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man” Gen 39:2
If you read through the story of Joseph, God calls him a success throughout all his troubles! You may be in prison right now, maybe you’re sickness has resulted in you losing your job, your finances, your relationships…..but God calls you a success. THANK YOU JESUS!
If we could just believe that we’re a success because of who we belong to, everything within is changes. No more striving, no more thoughts of failure. Your a success because of who your father in heaven is. God’s presence is all you need. When you meditate on this, you find approval for all the parts of your life. You are not failing. You are ok the way you are, with all your aches and pains. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!
The Bible has asked us to love ourselves (Mark 12:31) We’re not loving ourselves when we are in the perfectionist zone. It’s self abuse. We would never dream of abusing other people the way we abuse ourselves.
The desire to receive love is more important than the desire to be genuine. We think that if others think we’re a success, it will get us the love we need. This causes conflict between our essential self (who we really are) and our reality. The problem is that we just don’t recognise it.
This can stem from childhood, if parents are critical of their children or if their standards are high, children will perform to get the love they perceive as missing.
The only opinion that matters, is our father in heaven’s. Everything you do is for the audience of one. God thinks you’re awesome! Remember he thought you were worth dying for. This gives us our worth.
3 Ways to overcome perfectionism.
1. Meditate on who God says we are, his love and acceptance of us. This way you’re dealing with the root cause. A deeper revelation of God’s love stops us from performing to receive acceptance from others.
2. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you when perfectionism is in the driver’s seat. This is half the battle. Once you’re self aware, you can chose to allow it to rule the show, or take it captive and chose a higher, more self loving pattern of behaviour.
3. Every time you feel not good enough, reverse the self-talk; Your new mantra could be “I am a success because the Lord is with me”