Hitting Close to Home – The Battle Against Perfectionism

Are you a classic overachiever?! I know I tend to be! There are so many self help books and articles out there to help. Ultimately, I know that the only One that has ever been perfect is Christ. And fortunately, my redemption and righteousness and wisdom and sanctification is not my own; it is completely based on the work of Christ on the cross (I Corinthians 1:30). That, in and of itself, takes a huge pressure off. My salvation is not based on my works or how I look or anything other than Jesus Christ’s work on the cross. That’s awesome!

Besides the spiritual aspect, there are some practical tips to battling perfectionism. I found this website the other day and was browsing around it tonight. I found an article I desperately need to hear before starting into a life change. It’s “How To Stop Being Perfect” on WholeLiving.com. I hope it’s as encouraging to you as it was to me. Here it is:

Is This Your Idea of Happiness?

How to Be Imperfect

Make peace with your inner overachiever: Your quest for the perfect job, the perfect family, and the perfect life may boost your satisfaction temporarily — but will you ever be truly happy?

So what should you do? Lower your standards? Not exactly. Here are three classic characteristics of the perfectionist personality trait, and 10 easy strategies for breaking out of the stickler mind-set.

The goal here is to empower your decisions so that you can free yourself from perfectionism and move your life forward — one healthy achievement at a time.

Type 1: Seeker of Excellence

If your idea of success is never making a mistake — ever — then this is you. However, striving for nothing short of success may cost you that success. Plus, if you’re paralyzed by a fear of making mistakes, you might not take as many risks. The workplace can be a minefield for anyone with these perfectionist tendencies. The following slides will help you break out of this mind-set.

Remove Your Mental Filter

Perfectionists make life harder on themselves by filtering out good news and zeroing in on the negative. So don’t dispense so readily with the good stuff — and realize, too, that without room for improvement, you have no goals to work toward. See your weaker areas not as indelible flaws but as opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Discover the Joys of Getting It Wrong

The ability to accept and learn from mistakes can set you free. Underestimated the cost of renovating your kitchen? Now you know. Got stumped at a meeting with your boss? You’ll be better prepared next time.

Compare Yourself with Others

Done the right way, comparing can help release your perfectionist grip. It’s easy to assume, for instance, that everyone is doing a stellar job. But take notice: Do your coworkers take longer lunches than you do, or send emails with the occasional typo? If they’re not perfect, why should you be?

Type 2: Master of Organization

If you could earn college credit for cleaning and organizing, you’d have a Ph.D. Sound like you? If so, your extreme level of neatness works as a benchmark of perfectionism. But it’s doubtful that a clean and ordered environment equals success.

People forget that tidying everything takes a lot of time. One study revealed that 66 percent of Americans making $35,000 or less per year described themselves as neat freaks, while only 11 percent of those earning $75,000 said the same.

So weigh the benefits before you put energy into organization. The following slides will give more tips on helping you through this.

Put People Before Things

Put the people in your life ahead of your stuff. While you don’t want to let your house sink into utter chaos, cutting back on the time you spend creating impeccable order may be worth it.

Prioritize Your Perfectionism

It’s impossible to achieve perfection in all areas of our lives simultaneously. Instead of trying to master everything, pick some things you want to excel in, and go for average in other areas. If teaching is your passion, then perhaps cooking a gourmet meal every night becomes optional.

Don’t Worry About Messes

If you pride yourself on keeping an orderly home, you might see even small-scale messes as a personal failure. This cognitive distortion can wreck your self-esteem. Catch yourself when you feel yourself falling into one of these downward spirals. Rather than react emotionally, see socks and dishes for what they are: everyday facts of life that need tending to, not evidence of your incompetence.

Type 3: Focused on Negatives

If looking in the mirror reminds you of what you wish you looked like, this perfectionist is you. The ruthless proliferation of perfect-seeming images, particularly of women’s bodies, is enough to make even the most confident among us turn a critical eye on ourselves.

Recast your perspective and rethink what standards you’re holding yourself to, and you can begin to feel beautiful and lovable — without squeezing into a size 0. The following slides will help.

Counter the Negative

The next time you fire off a punishing thought about your derriere, list three positive things in its place. When your inner voice comes down on you, counter it with the three positive thoughts.

Focus on Wellness, Not Weight

Rather than pick on what you don’t like about your arms or thighs or belly, think about ways to improve your health, whether that’s eating better or biking a few times a week. When your health, not your looks, is the motivating factor, you’re more likely to see the results you want.

Age Gracefully, Not Kicking and Screaming

Expecting to defy the passage of time by looking decades younger is another way we set up impossible goals. What makes you attractive has more to do with your carriage, your confidence, and your hard-won wisdom than how much you resemble a designer-jeans model.

Fade Out Black-and-White Thinking

Do you view your physical worth in the strictest of terms, thinking that one bad-hair day or an extra five pounds renders you unattractive? The challenge is not to let a single factor derail your efforts. If you had a moment of weakness, just skip dessert that night and you’re on track again.

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