“The grace of God in Christ is the antidote to perfectionism.” – Bill Gaultiere
Friends, I have a confession to make, I am a recovering perfectionist. And here’s the funny part, I had no clue I was a perfectionist. I thought I was just doing what everyone else does. I was working hard, taking care of my household, strengthening my relationship with God, just trying to live a life that I, along with my loved ones, could be proud of.
But what took me over the edge was my obsessive behaviors. I obsessed about all of my work being perfect, I obsessed about providing a quality lifestyle for my family; I obsessed about strengthening my relationship with God, I obsessed about the legacy I would leave behind. My desire for perfection fogged my perception, making it nearly impossible to see that my joy, energy and passion was at risk.
So what made the light bulb go off?
I realized that striving for perfection was a distraction. It didn’t bring me closer to fulfilling my goals, it didn’t make me a better person; perfection disconnected me from grace. I couldn’t make a mistake without beating myself up. I couldn’t come home and spend time with my family, because I had tasks left undone. There was no work/life balance. And deep down, I could hear my Spirit saying, “Remember grace”. I love the definition of grace given by Dallas Willard. He says, “Grace is God acting in our lives to do what we cannot do on our own.” Grace does not look at performance or merits. Grace does not beat you up when you make a mistake. Grace is gentle, grace is kind, grace is patient. Grace is rooted in love; it’s God’s nature.
If we’re honest in our understanding of perfectionism, I believe we would see that perfectionists attribute so much of their worth to their works. And I’m here to tell you that is a dangerous way to live; not only is it a dangerous way to live, it’s also ineffective. Our worth was determined long before our existence; it is not tied into our works, grace teaches us that. Instead, we should embrace the fact that our fulfillment in life will come as a result of how we lived versus what we accomplished. And that nugget of wisdom has changed my life.
How do you recover from perfectionism?
I am still learning so much about grace and how to rid myself of perfectionism. But here’s what I’ve learned thus far:
1. When you’re having a moment of vulnerability and those behaviors of perfectionism try to creep back in, remember grace. Remember that God loves you. And I’m not talking about God loves you, but you must know every Bible verse, attend church every Sunday, etc. That would be conditional love, God loves you unconditionally. He loves you whether you make a typo, He loves you even if your business fails, He loves you if you make a F on your report card. He loves you. Whatever you do, never forget that.
2. Ask yourself at the end of the day, “Did I do my best today?” If you can answer “yes”, then be content with that. There’s no reason to drown yourself with work. If you’ve given the day your best that’s more than enough.
3. Do not allow the fear of what other people may think to overwhelm you. I love this quote by Les Brown, “Don’t let someone else’s opinion of you become your reality.” It’s easy to give opinions control over our actions, but what do those opinions do with that control? They create a little box around you and inject you with so much fear that you never step outside of that box. That little box becomes your comfort zone. And we all know how limiting our comfort zones are…
4. Learn to laugh more. If you make a mistake, it’s okay; find the lesson and find a source of laughter in the experience. We’re going to make mistakes, we’re going to have embarrassing moments, but it’s okay. I promise, if you search hard enough, you’ll find the lesson and a good chuckle as well.
5. Learn the difference between perfection and excellence. Realize that, no matter how hard you try, you will not attain perfection. Instead, you’ll produce a neverending cycle of never-good-enough moments. When you embrace excellence, you’ve unlocked something special. Excellence is a mindset. Once adopted, excellence effortlessly permeates every thing you do. When you strive for excellence, you’re simply making a commitment to give the world your personal best.
In love and light,