At what age did we decide that we had to have everything together, that we couldn’t make mistakes, and that if we did make mistakes, it would look as if we didn’t know what we were doing? Why do we feel the need to wait to reply to something before we feel like we have the perfect answer? Why do we push off starting things or even trying, because we don’t fully understand it and we must exicute it perfectly? And is there really ever the “Perfect” anything?
Remember when we were kids and we tried things for the first time? We would make mistakes and fall, but we always seemed to get back up! We always seemed to push through, and I don’t ever recall feeling the need to be ” perfect”, or to do something ” perfect”. When did this thought ever cross our minds and why?
I wondered what the definition of perfectionism was, so I looked it up and deciced to share it below.
The definition of perfectionism is as follows:
per·fec·tion·ism/pərˈfekSHəˌnizəm/Learn to pronouncenoun
- refusal to accept any standard short of perfection.
- PHILOSOPHYa doctrine holding that religious, moral, social, or political perfection is attainable, especially the theory that human moral or spiritual perfection should be or has been attained.
Perfectionism or being a perfectionist seems to be a term thrown around a lot and it can also be a source for us making excuses. I know that I, myself, use this term many times when referring to myself or being upset with myself for not achieving on the level that I set out to. The funny thing is that deep down inside I know that I can’t be perfect, that it doesn’t exist, but for as long as I can remember I have set unrealistic expectations for myself, expectations that I would never place on anyone else.
In trying to understand this, I did a little research. I really loved what Nick Wignall had to say when I came across his blogpost on perfectionism and what causes it. He says,
Perfectionism isn’t about achieving perfection.
We tend to think about perfectionism in terms of behaviors and outcomes—acing the exam, hitting our sales numbers each week, ensuring the dinner party goes just right, etc. In other words, perfectionism appears to be about perfecting things out there in the world.
This makes some sense given that the behaviors associated with perfectionism are visible and easy to spot: Staying at work late every night, reviewing the report for a fifth time, putting in an extra half hour on the elliptical, etc.
But just because behaviors are visible and easy to observe doesn’t mean they’re the whole story. Or even the most important part of the story. The way we think about perfectionism is strongly influenced by the way it looks; but looks, as we all know, can be deceiving.
Far from a mild personality quirk or the false humility of the high-achiever, true perfectionism is hellish.
Most people with perfectionism will admit that they know intuitively that on some level their expectations and efforts toward achieving perfect outcomes are both unrealistic and detrimental, that true perfection is impossible.
Which leads us to the central paradox of perfectionism: Perfectionists know that achieving perfection and doing things perfectly is impossible, and yet they feel driven to keep trying anyway.
But what causes this??? Many things steem from childhood circumstances or childhood responses to some kind of trauma. Perfectionism could be the same thing. At the root of the perfectionism isn’t about being perfect, its about feeling perfect.
I know i have dealt with perfectionism in my own life and until the last couple years I let it take over a lot of who I was. I let it determine my worth to a certain extent & my success. I valued success & looking like I was perfect or that I had it all together because I thought it would lead to me feeling better, but it didn’t. It made me strive more and harder and I began to even understand what I was working towards. 2020 was a HUGE year for me in reevaluating who I am, what I wanted & what success was in my life.
I have a sense of peace realizing that no one (except Jesus) is perfect & we WILL NEVER BE PERFECT & that’s ok! We don’t need to be perfect or make it seem that we are perfect! We are drawn together & brought closer in our vulnerabilities! We will always fail & when trying to measure up to a standard of perfectionism, we will ALWAYS be less than. So instead of looking to be perfect or look like we are, we can take comfort in knowing that WE can fail and yet, still succeed!
Have you ever dealt with perfectionism?! What’s your response to it?!