I'd like to throw away perfectionism! It keeps popping up in my life like a noxious weed. I pull it out and pull it out, but it finds new places to crop back up.
I know when I developed the drive to do things perfectly. I may have born with extra drive and a desire to excel; genetics may play a part. I was also the oldest child and oldest children often are achievers. Also when I was a small child, my dad often told me to redo something that I'd already put my best effort into. And both my parents were stern and strict and often seemed displeased with me. I tried harder and harder to win their approval. I did the same in school--always wanting straight A's and miserable if I got an A- or B+ in something. Even when I got an A, I was blue if someone else got an A+. I left childhood with the feeling that I could never do anything well enough. I did "good" and even "better than the majority", but it was still never "enough."
As a young adult, I spent years with a man who was never happy. I seemed to displease him no matter how hard I tried to avoid trouble. Instead of quitting, I tried harder and harder to please him. And once again, I couldn't. No matter how much effort and concentration I put into it, I could not make our home peaceful or safe. My husband actually became more out-of-control the longer we were together. My efforts weren't enough.
Now I can easily see that I was trying to manipulate abusive people into being nicer to me. It was doomed to fail.
Years ago, I confronted the idea of "being perfect." I know it is impossible. I am human. I discovered that perfectionism isn't desirable in many situations. In relationships, it actually hinders intimacy and realness. Being around someone who is always trying to be perfect isn't much fun. It's stifling.
So, I see the uselessness of trying to be perfect. And yet...that weed still reasserts itself.
I just finished phase one of a weight management diet. During phase 1, most people lose 20-40 pounds and some lose 15. It was explained to me that people closer to their ideal weight tend to lose 10-15 and those who are extremely obese tend to lose 40 or more pounds. I heard the information, but it was really irrelevant. I had already decided I would lose 40-45 pounds. The only thing I had control over was whether I followed the diet instructions strictly. I followed them to the letter, perfectly if you will. I lost 16 pounds and 2 inches off all the really visible trouble spots. Instead of celebrating the great progress, I was mourning this week because I really thought I should out perform the norms. I should be an A or A+ student. Hence my need to pull out some weed pesticide.
What pesticide will work? I prayed to see if I needed to look at any new issues or re-examine old ones. I think that in this case, I just need to accept that I've had perfectionism in my thinking since I was very young, so it will still pop up sometimes. I have choices though. I am going to celebrate the weight loss. I am going to treat myself with respect and not punish myself for desiring something unrealistic.
In that spirit, I went clothes shopping yesterday. I am happy to report that I am down a full size! It is actually my normal size. I still have some excess pounds, but I am back into my normal pant size at least with some brands. I will be fully back to normal when I can wear any brand in that size. I am getting close! My efforts did pay off. I have done enough with phase one of the diet plan. Ah! Just writing the words brings added relief. I've done well enough. Yes!
Does perfectionism creep up in your life? If so, how goes the battle? Are you learning how to see if it leads to a train of thoughts that need healing? Have you done that healing and now it is a process of retraining your thoughts and beliefs? Wherever you are in the process, God understands and can help you to know what your next step is.
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