policing the perfectionist
Have you ever known someone who has taken a perfectionist mindset into every venture that they have ever pursued? If you have, you know very well that it can drive you sort of crazy interacting with these types of people, can’t it? Indeed, sometimes working alongside or coexisting with perfectionists can be downright exhausting. It can be a real challenge to match the expectations of those who demand such high standards excellence from themselves. You may wonder if your efforts will ever be strong enough to please them. Will the completion of the task at hand alone ever be satisfactory? Or will there always be discontent with the process that you followed leading you to your final outcome? It can be brutal. Believe me, I know first-hand how very difficult it can be living with someone like this day in and day out because well, I myself am a perfectionist.
Perfectionists are generally great people at heart. And I’m not saying that to pat myself on the back, I’m saying it because I believe it to be true. There is nothing more a perfectionist wants to do than to please those around them. You’ll note that most perfectionists will bend over backwards for you, be it in a personal or professional environment. These individuals will work late and willingly sacrifice themselves for the better of the team. You will find them constantly striving to exceed the expectations of their superiors because they want desperately to be acknowledged and accepted. Such desires come from what many would deem deep-rooted personal flaws. And perhaps there is some truth to that. But I can assure you that it’s not out of selfishness that they demand such performances of themselves and those around them. Trust me, no one would openly choose to pressure themselves to the level that a perfectionist does on a daily basis.
The stress associated with being a perfectionist can be debilitating. I understand it because I’ve lived it. You can run yourself ragged chasing one goal after another only to realize that the attainment of such benchmarks never really leads you to any true fulfillment. As a perfectionist, you tend to always feel that you could have done things better. You may fear that those around you serving witness feel the same. And that may temporarily motivate you to focus harder and be more precise next time. But eventually as time wears on and effort after effort continues to fall short of perfection, you tend to begin to fear taking action altogether. Sometimes it’s an easier decision to not compete at all than to risk failure in front of the biggest critic that you’ve ever known…yourself.
Over the last few years I’ve found my perfectionist mindset to be very disruptive of my efforts to continue writing in pursuit of my passion and calling. There have been periods when I’ve gone months on end without even putting any words together because I’ve feared that whatever comes out will not be worthy of my stamp of approval. I’ve wrestled with my mind endlessly, and far too often I’ve allowed my irrational desires for flawlessness to dictate my actions, or more accurately, my inaction. I honestly cannot begin to tell you how much I have despised the conversations regarding my performance that I’ve encountered in my own head during the course of my life. Nothing has ever really been good enough to match the demands that I have put on myself. And honestly, I’ve grown tired of failing, not so much in front of others, but in front of myself.
But despite my internal struggle, I cannot and will not quit. Today I plan to take the first step towards putting an end to my need for perfection. I’m going to let go of my desire to meet the impossible demands of my mind and simply focus on following my purpose in God and allowing Him to determine what is worthy of praise. My faith tells me that I alone can never achieve perfection on my own. I can strive for it, but only in partnership with God can I ever offer anything truly remarkable to those around me. My perfection comes through my total surrender to Him, in my willingness to accept and implement His plan for my life.
Flawlessness is beyond the reach of any man. Only God knows the path to perfection. So let’s all decide today to let go of any desires that we feel to act as the final judge and jury of our efforts and instead choose to love ourselves and find our peace through an undying commitment to living His purpose.
May God Bless!