Has anyone ever said to you, “You’re such a perfectionist!” or “Who died and made you God?” Perhaps you’ve mumbled something similar when dealing with a demanding co-worker or loved one. But what is perfectionism?
One dictionary defines it as “a propensity for being displeased with anything that is not perfect.” Yet a practicing perfectionist may not always demand straight A’s, refuse to leave the house if the bed’s not made, or endlessly edit a report. Perfectionism is more subtle than that. It’s about unreasonable expectations – how we berate ourselves and others (silently or aloud) for having human (decoded as “weak”) thoughts and emotions, inconsistent commitment levels, or average accomplishments, bodies and relationships.
When we try too hard to make ourselves, our jobs and our families “just right,” we get overly stressed and bone-tired. Who needs that? Relief is possible. It’s a process, but we can reduce our self-sabotaging behaviors by:
Realizing that when we fall into the “trying too hard to make it just right” trap, we believe amisconception: That people, projects and circumstances have the capacity to be perfect (or “just right”).
Just wondering here: Do you ever get tired of trying too hard to make it all just right?
I adapted this article which I originally wrote to be published by Genius Avenue Inc., copyright 2011.
Around 2:30 this morning I finished reading Mary DeMuth’s new book, Thin Places, a heart-wrenching memoir of abuse, imperfection, and healing. (More about that in a future blog!) Then after going back to sleep for awhile, I worked in the Mending the Soul workbook by Celestia Tracy (following-up on classes I took last week about helping abuse & trauma survivors.) Later I listen to clients’ angst tinged with hope. Heavy.
Truth is: We’re all wounded–and our pain oozes out in strange ways. We feel squelched sometimes and need AIR. Reminds me a journal entry I shared in my devotional book, It’s a Wonderful (Imperfect) Life.
Journaling reality: “I do what I assume I should while inner and outer bullies dictate how I ought to be: You’re selfish, Joan. Try harder. Get it all done. He’s mad at you. You should do more. You gotta look better. You don’t need rest. I feel confined to a narrow box with little space for developing creativity, intimacy or individuality—all the things I long for.
Get me out!: After years of living this way, I feel raw anguish that I push down–deeper. If I keep busy enough, I don’t have to deal with the disappointment or hurt. Then it backfires and I crash. “Help, Lord,” I cry. “I can’t do it anymore.” And wow, He meets me in my mess. Eventually I read Psalm 31:7-8* and my exhausted heart smiles. I don’t have to stay in the box!
Wide-0pen spaces: Now every time I read His promise to set my feet in a spacious place, I smile—inside and out. I want to tell any woman (or man) who feels trapped that God will open the lid of your box and take you to a wide-open space. It’s a process, yet He wants to release you from the limitations of your pain and misconceptions and set you in a place of expanded joy.
Making It Personal: What’s your spacious place look like to you? Consider gathering your courage and asking God to take you there.
* “I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw. . . the anguish of my soul. You have. . . set my feet in a spacious place.” Ps. 31:7-8
“If you don’t want to burnout, stop living like you’re on fire,” writes Brene Brown, a vulnerability researcher at the University of Houston. Adopting reusable freedom-producing strategies can help you avoid additional symptoms or escape an established burnout system.
What loving self-care will you resolve to practice in 2012?
I wrote this article and it was originally published by Genius Avenue Inc., copyright 2011. Used here with permission.
I’m back to reality after my extended get-away. (More fun photos about it later!) This wonderful gratitude-producing vacation is the reason I’ve not blogged for several weeks. Well, that and the fact that my website/blog is acting up! Maybe it didn’t like my neglect!! But I digress. Truth is: getting back to reality and catching up threatens to be tad-bit overwhelming! Hmmm.
While working through the Intentional Woman process this morning (in prep for several upcoming speaking events), I asked God for clarity and guidance about what is on my calendar and to-do list. I realize that I simply can’t do it all without the gracious calm help of His presence within me.
I also noticed that God is not asking me to do MORE at the moment. In fact, this is the insight I got: Joan, you need to say “no” to all other work/ministry requests until after March 15. Well, okay, I’d say that is pretty clear.
What grace-filled message are you hearing from God today? (BTW, the photo is just a “visual aid” to encourage you to relax & look up to the Lord for help today–or whenever you’re reading this!)
In case this blog turns up haywire, I’m sorry. Part of the “acting up” is that I can’t preview it or edit it or even find it after I publish it. Well, I guess I’ll work on that “problem-solve” this AFTER March 15. LOL!
Joan C. Webb
Writing, teaching, coaching to empower and set free.