A few years ago if you asked me to describe myself, I would probably include perfectionism as one of my characteristics.
Since I was a child, I have been trapped by the ideal of perfectionism.
In a way perfectionism is a personality trait. A way of characterizing oneself which is seen in a person’s striving for excellence and setting extremely high expectations. Along with the excessive need for perfection comes critical self perceptions.
My perfectionism was revealed in my school performance. I worked not just for good grades, but excellent grades. A perfect 🙂 (no pun intended!) example of this happened my junior year in high school. I sat before my Spanish teacher in tears over a B+.
It was not just my grades that were important. In order for me to be an outstanding student, I had to be involved. I was editor of the school newsletter, class treasure and a junior commissioner. Just to name a few. On top of all that, I danced 5 days a week. Ballet was my escape, however Ballet also required excellence.
As an adult, my perfectionism was reflected in my need to keep an orderly and clean home. To have well-behaved and well-dressed children. To be the text book homemaker and wife.
My continual striving to meet high standards often left me feeling inadequate. I was measuring my self-worth based on performance and how others perceived me. I was convinced that perfectionism was a real and tangible goal. If I only tried hard enough, I would someday achieve it. These were my feelings up until just a couple years ago when God started to reveal the truth .
I realized perfectionism is a lie. It is unrealistic. It does not exist. I have experienced the dangerous cycle of perfectionism.
The cycle would always end in one of two ways:
1. My hard work paid off and I was successful, therefore feeding the lie that one day I may be perfect.
2. The cycle ended in failure which was devastating. My negative self-talk would start and I would feel as though I was unworthy.
Although perfectionism is not inherently a bad personality trait it puts you in danger of depression, low-self worth and an over dependence on the high appraisal from others.
Do you struggle with perfectionism?
If so, how has it impacted your outlook on life?
© 2012 Standing on Peace