I was talking to a friend the other day about some issues he was having in a relationship. Tension was high. Frustration was thick. Expectations were not being met. He asked my advice. I gave it.
I said, “You are a perfectionist. You have to be perfect in every aspect of your life and you are expecting this person (that you have problems with) to be perfect. You want the relationship to be fixed more than you want it to be whole. You will always be disappointed, because they will never be perfect.”
My guess is that some of you are perfectionists too. You have to be perfect at work. You have to have a perfectly kept house. You have to have perfectly behaved kids. You have to be the perfect spouse. You have to be the perfect friend. If you can’t be perfect, then most likely you just put on the facade of perfection. You pretend things are perfect at home; with your kids, in your job. No one can know you may not be perfect, after all.
If you are perfectionist, here are some things you probably struggle with.
1. Live in defeat
Perfectionists live with a sense of defeat because no matter how much they try, they aren’t perfect. They make mistakes that they can’t forgive themselves for making. They are defeated by the lack of perfection in their marriage; in their relationships; in their family.
2. Lack joy
Perfectionists lack joy because their best isn’t good enough. Marriage isn’t fun because it isn’t perfect. Kids aren’t enjoyable because they aren’t perfectly behaving. The house isn’t a refuge because you can’t keep it cleaned 24/7. The success you have at work isn’t enjoyable because you think about all you could have done better.
3. Unmet expectations
Perfectionists are disappointed with people. Their boss doesn’t meet their expectations. Their kids don’t meet their unfair expectations. Their spouse doesn’t meet their expectations. God is a disappointment. He doesn’t come through. He doesn’t meet the perfectionist’s expectations. No one is ever good enough for the perfectionists.
Here are a few suggestions to live in freedom.
-Commit to being real over being perfect.
Most perfectionists I know live with a need to impress others by their performace. Perfect is usually a cover for the fear they have of being honest and real. Freedom comes as you commit to be real, open and honest about your life, your mistakes and your insecurities.
-Give up the guilt
A lot of perfectionists feel guilty about everything. They take ownership of issues and attitudes that have nothing to do with them and then feel guilty about them. Stop feeling guilty for things that aren’t your fault.
God doesn’t expect you to be perfect. He longs for you to find yourself perfectly in Him. There is only one Messiah. When you give up your need to be the savior, God will save the perfectionist part of your heart and give you freedom to enjoy life again.
(Written by a recovering perfectionist)