Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist

I’ll let you in on a little secret about perfectionist types- we don’t think we’re perfect, in fact usually the opposite is true!  Perfectionists are trying like mad to look in control, to appear that they know it all, or can do it all because deep down, they have more fears than the average joe, fears that somehow they won’t measure up.  Often there’s a little OCD in the mix, and if you didn’t know, OCD is a disorder rooted in anxiety.

Now there are some benefits to having this internal drive for perfection– students will revise projects to score a higher grade; employees in almost any field will gladly work longer hours to complete the job, and though they will want to win every argument, perfectionists also tend to strive to be the “best” provider, or helpmate they can be in marriage relationships.  However the downside is equally apparent.  If you know one, you too must be familiar with the inflexibility, moodiness, and critical nature that tends to accompany this personality type.  There’s another one in my immediate family who has such a need to be right that he will hedge his bets in staking out his position, and then defend to the death that, “what I really meant was…” whenever he faces being wrong.

So, I’ve been working on letting go of my own perfectionist tendencies for years now.  Overall, I’ve discovered a much healthier, more joyful approach to life, and I’ve learned to relax a little, giving myself the same grace I extend to others. Gratefully I can now say I’ve grown a lot in this area– even to the point of not completely dying inside when I publish a blog with spelling mistakes or a missing/incorrect words. 🙂  Yet there’s plenty of room to grow…

Just today I found myself once again getting defensive about being “called out” for my weaknesses.  Not only wasn’t I doing an exercise routine”perfectly”, but I wasn’t doing my personal best.  Now here’s the kicker, this wasn’t an instructor telling me to work harder but a machine– that’s right, I actually found myself in a co-dependent, wanting-to-please-at-all-costs relationship with the computer that evaluates my workouts!!  Fortunately, as soon as I realized what was going on with me emotionally, I’ve been able to laugh at myself ever since.  Oh well… Here we go again 🙂

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