Hello, my name is Cathy and I am a perfectionist. I have been plagued with being a perfectionist as far back as I can remember. Although I’ve mellowed in recent years, if there had been a Twelve-Step Program for perfectionists when I was younger, it would have been helpful.
Perfection: the quality of something that is as good or suitable as it can possibly be, or to strive for perfection as a goal.
When you are a perfectionist you:
Take on Extra Work – Delegation is a Biblical principle that began while the Israelites were wandering in the desert. I failed to appropriate this blessing because the evil gremlin on my shoulder shouted at me, “No one can do it like you can. Do it yourself so you’ll know it’s done right.” Here is how this manifested itself in my home:
When my children were young I decided it was time for them to learn how to do some of the cleaning. I made a chart with step-by-step instructions on cleaning the bathroom. I took the two of them and the chart into the bathroom and demonstrated the ease of doing it the right way, a.k.a. “my way.” The next week, I sent them in to do it themselves. I nearly went berserk when they disregarded my chart and careful instructions and did the steps out of order and didn’t use my proven methods. I fussed at them until they started to cry. That’s when the wake-up call came from God asking me, “Is it important the cleaning gets done your way or that it gets done and they learn a life skill?” I had to apologize to both of them and repent to God for my behavior.
Take on Troubled Interpersonal Relationships – It’s odd how your best asset can also be your worst deficit. I held high expectations for myself but I expected the same thing from others. I was continually disappointed when they didn’t produce to my standards. I did great work, but, at the same time, I alienated people. When they offered to help on a project and I declined, they felt I didn’t have confidence in their work. Hurt feelings often ensued.
Take on Criticism – My mother, a perfectionist herself, told me many times, “I don’t know why you always do things the hard way” meaning I didn’t do them her way. In school, I was called St. John (my maiden name) because I always did all my assignments on-time, did more than was expected, and ruined the class grading curve. Other times when I was called out for excellent results on a project, I’d see someone in the room roll their eyes or say to the person next to them, “This really gets old. Who does she think she is?”
Being a perfectionist takes a toll on a person. Thankfully, Jesus, my wonderful counselor, helped me adopt a new personal mantra a couple years ago – “Be gentle with yourself.” It has done wonders for me. I’ve shared it with people I encounter who are being hard on themselves and they are helped.
I hope when you find yourself stressed, you will take the advice Jesus gave me, and “Be gentle with yourself.”
Going out with joy and gentleness today-
Isaiah 9:6 Unto us a child is born and the government (order) will be upon His shoulders.
He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.