Apr 242013
 

Two weeks ago I shared how I have been trapped by perfectionism ever since I was a young child. Up until a few years ago I was convinced that perfection did exist and could be attained, if only I tried hard enough.

It was not until walking through the Beth Moore Bible study “Breaking Free” did I realize the strong hold fear and perfectionism had on my life.

I entered into the Bible study with the mind set of “I don’t have a strong hold. I don’t suffer from an addiction.” Boy was I wrong! Much to my surprise, I discovered my strong hold was fear. Fear is a close friend of perfectionism.

My tendency towards perfection has not disappeared, but instead of being controlled by it, I am learning to have better control of it.

The Lord is gracious and teaches me, if I am open to it.

Here is what I have learned:

1) Perfection does not exist. This one took me a long time to grasp. It does exist in a Pottery Barn catalog, but not in reality.

2) I am not perfect nor will I ever be. The only human who was ever perfect is Christ.

3) It is ok to be good enough. This one is still hard for me to accept. God loves me despite my faults and His opinion is the only one that matters. If I endeavor to give each day my all, that is good enough.

4) Striving for perfection as a mother, wife or in my home robs me of joy. Learning to hold my expectations loosely allows me the freedom to enjoy life more fully. Life is about relationship with others and experiencing Christ’s joy. It is not about the perfect birthday party or having the best dressed child.

5) Daily living only allows for some things to be accomplished and that is ok. This is something I am currently working on. Setting my mind to spend an hour accomplishing a task and being ok when I have to stop. Believe it or not perfectionists are often procrastinators because we think the time has to be perfect and the project has to be done perfectly. Unless that can happen, why start?

6) Stop waiting for the “moment of arrival” when life will be perfect. Life will never be perfect. Each day and every moment is a time for learning. The “moment of arrival” will occur only when I am with my Savior.

I still have much more to learn but am already feeling some freedom from perfectionism. And to be honest, it feels good!

Do you feel captive by perfectionism? What is one step you can take today to start your journey to freedom? 

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Apr 102013
 

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?

 

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Feb 222013
 

Well, here we are my friends.  At the end of our Standing on Peace Body Challenge.

In thinking about and participating in this challenge, I have realized a few things about myself.

Perfectionism:

I have a heightened awareness to the role perfectionism plays in my day to day life.  Perfectionism enslaves me most of the time.   Whether it be performing duties as a wife and mother, in my responsibilities of the home, in my eating and exercise, or even how I think about myself, perfectionism plagues me.  I recently read a quote about perfectionism that hit home with me:

“Perfectionism is a self destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame,judgment, and blame.”

― Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

At the bare minimum, this type of belief system – one where keeping it together staves off unwanted emotions – steals my joy and prevents me from fully participating in life.

I want to be free from this.  I don’t want to miss out on life’s beauty because of my perfectionism.  And I certainly do not want to be my own worst enemy because I can’t extend grace and kindness to myself.  This challenge renewed my commitment to embrace letting go.

Vulnerability:

This challenge helped me identify why vulnerability is hard for me and why vulnerability is worth it.

Vulnerability goes against my natural tendency to stay closed off to people.  My closest friends know when life get rough, I crawl into my “shell”.  Which in reality, is the worst thing for me most of the time.  I also see that my perfectionism feeds my tendency to display my mask.  To put on the facade of having it all together is the opposite of being authentic and sharing my heart.

The good news is that I DO see the irreplaceable benefits of risking vulnerability.  I get to choose to be vulnerable with those who will be kind with my heart.  It increases depth in my relationships, brings freedom and turns my weaknesses into strengths.

I want authentic relationships in my life.  I really do want to expose my insecurities and limitations, in order for healing and connection to take over.  This challenge made me realize vulnerability won’t happen on it’s own.  I have to be intentional and thoughtful about not closing myself off.

It is my prayer you have been encouraged to take a deeper look at yourself in regards to perfectionism and vulnerability.

Are you ready to let go of your fears of being vulnerable with others and not being perfect?

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Feb 082013
 

I thought it was in my past.  It was over.  Done.  Then a Valentine’s day escapade left me sitting on our kitchen floor, crying.  And I knew I had a problem.

Exactly one year ago I realized perfectionism still had it’s hold on me.

After my holiday melt down, I wrote this reflection and I want to share it with you as we explore what it looks like to let our perfectionism go.  What it looks like to actually embrace our imperfections.

Recognition is vital to change.  This was my moment of recognition last year.

**********

On Valentines Day, I took a picture of the valentines we – excuse me – I made for a couple of Harper’s friends.   I posted the picture on Instagram and Facebook and received all kinds of positive feedback from my “mommy-friends”.

Immediately, I was struck by truth from the Holy Spirit: this looks perfect… but you know, Audi, it was not perfect.  Other women need to be reminded of this.

I had pure intentions. I had set out to create activities Harper and I could do together, to bond over.  But I had imagined this perfect craft day in my head for so long, I became determined for it to happen exactly as I pictured.  We made hand painted cards, kid valentines and considered baking something yummy.  But by the time it came to baking, we had already had a major melt down.  And by “we”, I mean ME.

In my flurry to create that perfect craft day, I didn’t notice my little girl needed me to slow down.  I had become Major General Audi Swift. The result: a major tantrum and I wound up on the kitchen floor, with tears streaming down my face.  The tides of perfectionism and comparison had pulled me in.

Later that night, mulling over our catastrophe, I was struck by a few things:

  • I had set out that day to be perfect, not real, but perfect.  I had fallen for the trap of comparing myself to other mommy-friends who always do the craft-holiday thing well, and their kids seem to be completely compliant with the process.  I was going to bulldoze my way to the same result if I had to.
  • I had allowed myself to get too busy and too overwhelmed to stop and respond appropriately to the specific needs of my child.  I forget that my day needs to allow for fluidity.  Sometimes the check list needs to wait.
  • I also, and most importantly, realized I had misplaced my priorities.  Reading my Bible and praying were on the back burner.  Without intentional focus on these things and listening to the Holy Spirit, I am lost.  Chaos and confusion set in.

I read a quote recently by Theodore Roosevelt that said,

“Comparison is the thief of joy”.

This is the truth:  We live in a culture that thrives on comparing people, looks, talents, worth, status, careers, etc. It’s easy for us, as women, to get trapped in this. Comparison plagues and poisons us.

Everything within me says Jesus never intended this for us!

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”  Psalm 139:14

It is my prayer today that our souls may know this very well, we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  I want to grow to appreciate who God has created us to be, to be grateful for the gifts and talents He has given me, and to be joyful for the gifts and talents He has given others.

When have you found yourself comparing yourself to others?  Would you join me in laying aside the facade of perfectionism and not allow comparison to steal your joy? 

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Jan 252013
 

Have you ever been unable to stop yourself from ruining a moment you knew should be absolutely joyful?  I have.  I almost ruined an entire day in Paris.

Not long ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to be in Paris.  We were without kids so we were enjoying calling the shots of our schedule.  One particular morning we had planned on getting up and going for a run together.

But, when the alarm went off, I could barely peel my eyes open, let alone move my body.  My husband asked if I would like to join him, I mumbled something about sleeping and I was left in beautiful silence for about an hour more.

It was beautiful.

Until I regained consciousness and realized I hadn’t gone running.  Instantly, a sweep of guilt, even anger, took over.

How could I be so lazy?  To actually miss running… in Paris nonetheless?  My hubby clearly was not lazy.  Why couldn’t I be like him?  Now he’ll be able to eat one more croissant than me!

I was literally disgusted with myself.

I quickly got ready and headed down to breakfast with my husband.  My grumpy mood hung over our table like a soggy blanket.  It was depressing, uncomfortable, unenjoyable and made you want to be just about anywhere else.

I let my idealism and perfectionism completely steal my joy.  In a moment when I wish I could have let all expectations go, I was comparing myself.  Stepping into that old trap of counting calories when I didn’t need to be.  I was labeling myself as a failure when that was the furthest from the truth.

I didn’t account for the fact that a parent desperately needs sleep when the kids aren’t around.  Or the fact we were jet-lagged.  I didn’t allow myself any allotment of grace.

I was rooting my identity in exterior standards, rather than who God says I am:

I am loved, adopted, chosen, accepted, redeemed.  (from Ephesians 1:3-14)

Thankfully my husband and I can talk about these deeper things without too much pain.  I’m thankful to have someone else in my life who can help me see truth.  Sometimes we need someone else to help us wake up.  To splash the cold water of truth in our face.

Recognition is always the first step to healing, right?  We need to start recognizing when our ideals or the world’s perfectionism is calling the shots.  When someone or something other than God dictates how we see ourselves.

Is your identity in your being perfect or is it in who Christ says you are?

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Jan 112013
 

Real Women Challenge: Audi from Jillian Willis on Vimeo.

Perfectionism and being vulnerable with others have been two of my deepest struggles over the past twelve years.  They’ve caused me a lot of heartache.  My need to be perfect, at times, drove me away from family, friends and God, and into unhealthy relationships, an eating disorder and isolation.  It has taken me a long time to realize so much of my wrestling has stemmed from these two roots.

I know I’m not alone in this.  Countless of you women struggle with me.

The pressure we feel to be perfect in so many areas -whether it be appearance, career, athletics, our home or our kids behavior – and our resistance to being vulnerable are often ways we try to tell ourselves we’re ok.  We feel in control, acceptable, good enough and we are less likely to be hurt.

So often, we feel alone.   Maybe we feel other women aren’t safe, aren’t really for us.  And they especially wouldn’t be for us if they saw our “wrinkles and warts” – knew the real us.   (Those of us who have the kind of girlfriends we can call when we are in shambles – well, we should get down on our knees and thank the Lord for those friends.  They are treasures.)

I think Jesus meant for us to share our stories with each other.  Whether they be full of color and beauty or full of grey and pain.

I am learning that far more healing can take place when we open ourselves up, rather than coil ourselves within.  Joy can come flowing into our lives when we link arms and hearts with others who are living life authentically.

I want to ask you, to join me in challenging yourself over the next two months to do two things:

1.  Practice being Vulnerable

  • We are practiced in putting up walls, protecting ourselves and being on guard.  Still for many of us, being vulnerable is linked to being hurt.  But, it is in being vulnerable with safe people where we can find the beginnings of authenticity, connection and healing. Start Taking Notice: I want to challenge you to start noticing when you stop being your “true” self and start building up the walls.  Is it around certain people?  Is it when a certain topic comes up?  Is it based on your performance or lack of performance in something?

2. Embrace NOT being perfect

  • It’s not typically considered popular or perhaps beautiful to be a mess, in a mess, or associated with a mess. Counter to what is ingrained in us,  NOT being perfect can actually bring healing and freedom, for us and others around us.  NOT having it all together can actually make you approachable, helpful and encouraging to others.  Start Taking Notice: I want to challenge you to start noticing when your need to feel or be perfect is highest.  Is it linked to your appearance, your performance, your home, your status, etc.?

I won’t lie and tell you this challenge will be easy.  It will probably make you uncomfortable.  But deep relationship cannot blossom and our twisted hearts cannot be untangled until we are willing to be vulnerable and embrace our imperfections.  I know for myself, it has stretched me, but I do find I am able to breath and be kind to myself a little bit more as I work at this.

I will be praying for you as you bravely take steps towards opening up your heart.  I want you to begin this challenge by reading a previous post of mine called “Simply Undone”.

2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Oct 022012
 

Ok.  Here it goes. (deep breath). I am taking down the guard and bearing my soul. 

As I have been spending the past weeks and months thinking about, recording and writing my life experiences, struggles, joys and pains – especially in the areas of food and body image – I have become completely undone.

Undone because I feel inadequate.  Undone because I am not the expert.  Undone because this topic of body image has been the cause of deep hurt, heartache and scaring in my life.

It is a continuous struggle for me to not give into the lie that tells me I’m not good enough.  This lie creates insurmountable fear inside of me.  It begs me to not be vulnerable and to believe I have to be perfectall the time.

But I have been learning over the past months.  To write and truly encourage others in the process, requires two things:

  • Vulnerability – It literally means to be “exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally”.  Being vulnerable requires exposure. Without vulnerability, depth is lost and we are left with a hard, untouchable exterior.
    • The positive: We have the ability to bring down others guards.  We allow others to connect in and find similarities.
    • The Negative: We are exposed!  We risk the possibility of criticism or rejection.
  • Not Being Perfect – As much as we wish it, none of us are perfect.  We have struggles.  We have shortcomings.  And we want to know we are not alone in our mess.  Not being perfect goes hand in hand with vulnerability.
    • The Positive: Our quirks or flaws can allow others to be real and embrace their imperfections as well.  It can also show us our need for others.
    • The Negative: We don’t get to hide behind our facade of having it all together anymore.

These two things go against our very core as human beings.  We want to protect ourselves.  We want to maintain a controlled image.  I am desperately afraid to “put myself out there”.  The need to be perfect has been woven into me… and admittedly, I care about others’ opinions of me.

In order to write, every day, I must be in prayer.  I must be ready to sweep out the cobwebs of past lies I have believed about myself.  As I ran today, I prayed, with desperation, that the Lord would calm my fears.  He brought to mind these two verses.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10,

“But he (the Lord) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’

  • The mere thought of sharing my heart and my journey with you causes me to feel insufficient, weak, and insecure.  This is an entirely new journey for me, but one that I know is worth treading.  You will see my weaknesses… and it is my prayer you will see Christ’s power and grace as well.

1 John 4:18-19,

“There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear…”

  • Because Jesus loves me with His perfect love… I do not have to be afraid.  He frees me up to be me, just me.  I can love every. single. person He puts in front of me, near me or beside me… all because He has loved me first… with His perfect love.

I hope you will join me on this journey of not living in fear, of being vulnerable and not being perfect.   I hope you will see a piece of yourself somewhere on these pages.

Have you ever had to do something that left you feeling vulnerable or exposed your imperfections?

Admin

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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