3 Steps to Overcoming Perfectionism
Is Perfectionism really so bad?
At first glance, perfectionism does not seem like such a big deal. I mean, is it really so wrong to strive for excessively high standards in pursuit of a flawlessly finished product? Aren’t we all seeking to be a better version of ourselves – good, better, best? So, then, why is it unhealthy to raise the bar in pursuit of our goals?
After all, to be the perfect wife, mother, daughter, sister, employee, or leader are definitely worth striving for in our quest to be the best, wouldn’t you agree? Unfortunately, our desire for perfection tends to drive us to be recognized as flawless in many areas of our life. And this is not healthy because perfectionism can become addictive.
While you may not recognize the benefits of overcoming perfectionism or understand the impact perfectionism has on your wellness, stay with me while I unpack the significance of overcoming the need to be perfect.
Perfectionism vs. High Standards
First, know that there is a difference between setting high standards and being a perfectionist. To set high standards is healthy and, to an extent, necessary for success. However, perfectionism can lead us to feelings of unworthiness when we do not obtain the standards we set out to achieve.
When our expectations are unrealistic, and we do not meet our impractical expectations in pursuit of perfection, we tend to be pretty hard on ourselves. We can even be rather unforgiving if we’re not living up to the expectations of the Pinterest perfect pumpkin carving or the picture-perfect Thanksgiving Day dinner. Why? Because achieving perfection is the goal, and anything less is just not acceptable. Sooner or later, we realize that trying to live up to such high standards in our pursuit of perfection is an impossible feat and a heavyweight to carry. Something’s going to give, and it will most likely be you!
Did you know perfection can turn into an obsession? When we obsess on believing that if only we were a little better at _________ (fill in the blank), we will be remarkable. But, as you know, these shallow feelings will not last. The quick boost in confidence when we believe we have obtained perfectionism is a quick fix to our feelings of unworthiness. And, when the euphoric moment ends, we are on to the next project, raising the bar even higher to achieve our goal in the quest to feel good enough.
If only this were true. But this is far from the truth. Perfectionism does not lead to contentment and joy. What it does create is the never-ending pursuit of success at any cost, perpetuating the never enough syndrome.
Who you are in Christ
And, if that’s the case with you now, it’s time you take steps to overcome the need for perfectionism that is wearing you out to the point of exhaustion. As for the self-critic in your mind that tells you that you are not enough, you are unworthy – it’s time to be reminded of who you are and whose you are in Christ.
God’s Word tells us that we are far from being perfect. Although, as Christians, we occasionally convince ourselves that perfection is what God expects from us – wrong. God does not place on us the expectation that to ensure His love, we must be perfect. It’s quite the opposite. God loves us unconditionally, and He recognizes our shortcomings and our faults.
In fact, if we were perfect — or even capable of being perfect — there would be no need for Jesus. But, it is because of our imperfection that we can receive everything God has to offer. Psalm 18:32 The Passion Translation reminds us, “You have wrapped me in power, and now you’ve shared with me your perfection.”
You see, our worth comes from God. We are His children. God loves us unconditionally and accepts us just as we are. He’s not waiting for the perfect you to show up. We are imperfect women loved by a perfect God. And, what I absolutely love is that God uses imperfect women just like you and me to fulfill His purpose! Repeat these words as often as needed.
When we are weak, He is strong!
So, how can we be unworthy when in God’s eyes, we were each created in His image for a unique purpose? “But he answered me, ‘My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.’ So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 TPT
These words are powerful – God’s grace is more than enough for you. YOU are more than enough through Christ. We all can take comfort in knowing that God uses our weakness, our imperfections for His glory.
My friend, when you release your need to perform or to be perfect, you allow God to use you for the good of His kingdom. It’s kingdom building at it’s best. So, how do we let go of our need to please, achieve, and be flawless? Let’s review God’s Word together as we learn 3 simple steps to overcoming perfectionism.
3 Simple Steps to Overcoming Perfectionism
I hope you are beginning to understand how seeking perfectionism is not only unhealthy to your wellness, but it is also stating, I’ve got this, no need for dependence upon God. These thoughts are wrong in every way because God’s got us, and through Him, all things are possible. Not just the things we don’t want to do but ALL things, and until you let go of your need for perfectionism, you will continue to hinder God’s purpose and plans for your life. So, I hope you’ll stay with me as we work through these simple steps to overcoming perfectionism.
Step #1: Overcome the Perfectionistic Thinking
The first step to overcoming perfectionism is to renew and refresh your thoughts daily. Why? Because negative thoughts are damaging to our soul. When we allow dark thoughts to overtake our minds, we become hypercritical, and thus the struggle begins.
Do you experience thoughts that tell you that you are not enough? You don’t deserve good things in life. Or you are not fit for success. This mindset, if not altered, will propel your perfectionism to the point of breaking. A negative mindset will always keep you from fulfilling your purpose, so it’s critical to your journey that you push the reset button.
“We can demolish every deceptive fantasy that opposes God and break through every arrogant attitude that is raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God. We capture, like prisoners of war, every thought and insist that it bow in obedience to the Anointed One.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 TPT
Negative and judgmental thinking oppose God. Our thoughts should be in alignment with God’s Word and not the standards of the world. When we base our value or anyone’s value on the measures of what the world suggests, we are clearly serving the world and not God. So, when you are overcome with negative thinking, the first and most critical step is to renew your thoughts and fortify your mind with the Word of God.
Let go of any thinking that is not serving God!
Step #2: Overcome Your Perfectionistic Attitude
Our thoughts lead us to action and these actions can perpetuate our need for perfectionism. Why? Because when we allow our negative thoughts to drive our behavior we maintain a prideful attitude.
Ephesians 2:9 reminds us that our accomplishments do not save us; we are saved by grace through faith, not from good or perfect work.
“Be free from pride-filled opinions, for they will only harm your cherished unity. Don’t allow self-promotion to hide in your hearts, but in authentic humility put others first and view others as more important than yourselves. Abandon every display of selfishness. Possess a greater concern for what matters to others instead of your own interests. And consider the example that Jesus, the Anointed One, has set before us. Let his mindset become your motivation.” Philippians 2:3-5 TPT
When we are under the illusion that we can attain perfection, pride will take root in our hearts. When we boast of our achievements or judge others for lack of achievement, we reflect arrogant behavior. Instead, we should acknowledge that we are not perfect, and as believers, we should reflect a spirit of humbleness.
By changing our thoughts, we alter our attitude. And, this change of attitude is necessary to fulfilling God’s purpose.
Change your attitude, change your life!
Step #3: Overcome Your Fears
The third step to overcoming perfectionism is to overcome your fears! Fear of making mistakes, fear of judgment, fear of not being good enough. These are lies told to us to hinder us from our purpose. No one is perfect. We will make mistakes. No one has the right to judge another person, and when you fear another person’s reprisal, remember God’s Word tells us that He will give you strength.
“Do not yield to fear, for I am always near. Never turn your gaze from me, for I am your faithful God. I will infuse you with my strength and help you in every situation. I will hold you firmly with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 TPT
Do not fear, for God is near. A powerful promise to help us overcome our fears. Let’s remember we are not perfect. We ALL make mistakes. It’s not if we make a mistake, it’s when we make a mistake and when we do, Isaiah 41:10 tells us not to fear but to keep our eyes on God, and He will give us the strength to see us through. Powerful words! God is reassuring us that He has us in His capable hands.
Let go of your fear of not being perfect
Pressing on to the Prize
What we do wrong today only helps us to get it right tomorrow. When we are tempted to focus on what didn’t work, we’ve lost sight of the goal. And our goal is to press onward to the prize promised by God through Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:14).
When we let go of our need for perfection and place our confidence in God, God is able to work through us.
These three simple steps free us from the harmful effects of perfectionism and help us let go of any disproportionate expectations we place on those around us.
It is my prayer these steps help you to overcome any feelings of shame or failure that keeps you stuck in the perpetual state of perfection-seeking. Let’s learn from our missteps and move forward in confidence, knowing that God is holding us in His victorious right hand.
“You have wrapped me in power, and now you’ve shared with me your perfection.” Psalm 18:32 TPT
Keep on shining!