I am a recovering perfectionist. The “recovering” bit is a recent development. This unwanted personality defect has invaded different parts of my life to varying degrees for as long as I can remember. Sports, my work, my appearance, my faith—I’ve struggled in all of these areas and more.
- I quit every sport I played because of the anxiety I experienced every time I stepped onto a field or a court. I was terrified of making a mistake in front of other people.
- When I started writing full-time, I spent four or five days preparing each article, though I’m capable of writing a good one in less than eight hours. I read, edited, and re-wrote each article over and over and over until I felt like it was “just right.”
- From age 18-24 I exercised excessively, trying to achieve the perfect physique. I skipped meals often. If I exceeded the number of calories I allotted myself each day, I would go back to the gym or make myself throw up.
- I’ve spent more days than not this past year excessively analyzing my motives and doing unreasonable things (beyond what Scripture commands) to make sure my acts of repentance were complete. I was afraid that if I didn’t repent perfectly, I might be demonstrating that I didn’t love God and that He didn’t love me.
I’m sure multiple factors contribute to my perfectionism. One could be a physiological element that is largely outside of my control. However, if this is a cause, I don’t think its the main cause. I believe the main causes are my desire to control what others think of me and my desire to feel valued. These are really two sides of the same coin. I believe I’m only as valuable as other people think I am, so I do this or that in an attempt to control how they perceive me.
- If my performance isn’t great, people might think I’m unskilled or talentless, and I’ll feel like a failure. So I don’t do anything in front of others that I’m not sure I can do well. As to what I think I can do well, I spend an excessive amount of time trying to do it perfectly so people will see me as especially gifted or skilled.
- If my body isn’t in tip-top shape, people might think I’m ugly. I’ll feel gross and undesirable. So I run 6 miles a day and purge.
- If I don’t “repent right” when I’ve sinned (or possibly sinned), God may reject me. I’ll be condemned for eternity. So I perform “acts of repentance” beyond what He commands me to do, just to make sure He’ll accept me. I try to secure His love through my efforts.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Matt Moore