The Myths You Believe About Being Perfect
Are you prone to perfectionism?
Being perfect – that’s my goal, realistic or not. I‘ve come to terms with that fact that perfection is isn’t possible, but every now and then that perfectionistic leaning rears its ugly head again!
Take our current home renovation project for example: our master bathroom. My husband did an amazing job of installing the wainscoting, and now it’s my turn – I’m stenciling above the wainscoting. It’s one of the last projects before we can do the fun part of actually decorating (and using) our master bathroom.
It turns out that stenciling is a tedious and laborious project, especially if you are a perfectionist. It didn’t take me long to discover that our walls are not perfectly plumb and our ceiling has high and low spots. Of course, these imperfections previously went unnoticed until I began stenciling and they make that stenciling flawlessly nearly impossible.
While my hubby is thrilled with the results and the hand done charm, I walk into the room and zero in the many “mistakes.” Ugh! That’s when you know that perfectionist thing is at work. (Zoom in – you will see what I mean.)
In the past, here are a few more ways my perfectionism has played out:
- Discouraging me from inviting people over to our home. After all, keeping a perfect house while working and managing a family is tricky.
- Wanting to hide when someone spotted a mistake in one of the printed volumes of Bible curriculum for kids I’ve authored.
- Putting unnecessary pressure on my husband and children to measure up.
- Shying away from public speaking opportunities because afterwards I would replay every mistake and be ridiculously hard on myself
- Procrastinating on tasks that I might not do perfectly.
Let’s just say being a perfectionist has a way of crushing your joy!
Recently God’s been encouraging me to just be – to relax and even be OK with being human; being imperfect. God reminds me again and again that He adores me – sees me as infinitely valuable and loves me beyond what I’m able to imagine. He does all that in spite of my imperfections!
Did you catch that? God doesn’t love me less because I’m not perfect!
So, I’m learning to be more OK with showing my human side – even when it comes to stenciling! And when I step back and take in the bathroom as a whole, it delights me.
Striving to be perfect is like navigating quicksand – not only is it impossible, but you feel like you are drowning in the process. Rising above the quicksand of perfectionism demands that you stop believing myths like this:
1. The Permanent Myth
When you believe that your efforts are permanent and will last forever, you’ll gravitate towards trying to be perfect. In reality, most of what you do is quickly forgotten and rarely not as monumental as you imagined. Truth be told, what you do can be edited, updated, or improved at a later date. And those tasks that can’t often give you the opportunity to grow and/or have a good chuckle at yourself.
Knowing everything is temporary allows you to share from your heart when speaking, write your next blog with candor, and just do your best no matter what you do. There’s a certain level of freedom and creativity that comes when your perspective is less permanent.
Even stenciling can be touched up!
2. The Positive Myth
Have you convinced yourself that trying to be perfect is positive and a worthwhile goal?
In reality, trying to be perfect is not positive at all. It causes you to focus on your flaws, imperfections, problems, and mistakes rather than on all the good bits. There might be a zillion positive bits and yet your focus is on the one or two less than perfect parts.
A truly positive person focuses on the positive, period!
3. The Success or Failure Myth
Perfectionism forces you to see things in extremes, yet there’s a spectrum of gray between success and failure – it isn’t limited to black and white. Even worse, the tendency is to believe that the odds are slanted significantly in the failure direction.
There is always room for improvement no matter how amazing your first try is. You are constantly changing and growing. When you look back at past efforts the desire to improve and update is strong!
While you won’t be able to do a meeting or presentation over again, those experiences are an incredible opportunity to learn and grow if you’re willing to invest the energy it takes to explore what to differently next time.
4. The Possible Myth
Being perfect – that’s not even possible this side of heaven. With that in mind, why are you investing so much time and energy into striving to be perfect? That’s a game you will lose every time!
Instead, just do your best. Work on steadily learning, growing, and improving. And when those imperfect moments pop up – take a moment to laugh at yourself and remember that you are human!
5. The Performance Myth
Neatly embedded in perfectionism is the thinking that our performance equals our worth! Nothing could be further from the truth. Since being perfect isn’t possible, and it doesn’t make you any more valuable, it’s pointless to pursue performing perfectly.
And as believers, our worth is 100% connected to what Jesus did for us on the cross. He valued us enough to die for us and do what were weren’t capable of doing. That’s pretty awesome!
God loves me no matter how well I stencil, speak, or write. He loves you too!
6. The People Will Like Me Better Myth
Attempting to be perfect is actually an attempt to prove you are enough and gain the approval of others in hopes that they will like you. In my experience, people are attracted to other people who are vulnerable and relatable and imperfect – not perfect people! It’s the people who genuinely care about you and are fully present with you – those are the people you are drawn to.
And don’t forget, perfect people don’t actually exist. Appearing perfect, often means hiding parts of yourself or pushing others down others in order to elevate yourself. Nobody gets excited about that!
If you want others to like you, just be you – imperfections and all!
7. The Pedestal Myth
While you may not strive for perfection yourself, you may place others up on the perfection pedestal. You take note of their strengths, overlook their weaknesses, and then you compare yourself to their seemingly perfect parts. That’s just silly!
Each one of us is unique and we shine in different ways. That’s worth celebrating in others, not something to compare yourself to. When you are sure of what makes you special and unique, you can relax and appreciate what you do have to offer as well as what others bring to the table.
Here’s the downside to perfectionsim. It leads to…
- Feeling discouraged and frustrated
- Being critical
- Negative and harsh self-talk
- A poor self-image
- Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues
- Relationship struggles
- Fear of failure
- Ingratitude – not letting things count or appreciating the little things in life
- Stress and worry
- Inability to be present
Perfectionism keeps you from achieving goals. makes you flaw focused, and prevents you from embracing all that God has for you. Noting good!
Instead, choose to acknowledge your progress and what you are capable of. Come to terms with being human. Cling to the truth – that you are loved and adored by God just as you are.
And don’t forget, doing something imperfect is always better than intending to do something perfect and never getting it done! Believe me, when I finish the stenciling, I’m going to celebrate my hard work AND the imperfections!
How about you – prone to perfectionism? Which of these 7 myths have you been believing?