The problem with perfection
Are you a perfectionist? We all want to do things right, to the absolute best of our ability, but what happens when we fall short? Dr. Linda Mintle says perfectionism leaves no room for mistakes, which causes a person to build their life on unrealistic expectations.
“There’s a part of perfectionism that is well intended, which is ‘I’ve got to do my very best, to really push myself, to set these great expectations.’ But the downside is people can hold actually such high expectations that there’s this constant fear of failure.”
This striving for perfection can trap people in a cycle of insecurity.
“When you have that kind of fear, that you have to do everything perfectly. What we know from the research is that actually ends up having a person feel more dissatisfied and chronically unhappy; it can actually lead to depression and anxiety.”
“Sometimes those high expectations come because we can’t control a lot of other things in our life, so we try to control the things that we can, and we want them to be perfect so that we feel better…but we end up feeling worse.”
The problem with perfection is nobody can meet that standard, so perfectionists will be chronically dissatisfied with other people and with themselves.
“It’s a very trying place to live your life because you’re always on edge, you’re always striving and you’re always pushing yourself. You see mistakes when other people don’t see them. You just spend a lot of time trying to perfect something.”
“In some ways, you waste a lot of time because people that are truly perfectionists, especially at work, they miss deadlines. They don’t turn in things on time because it’s just never quite right. So this has a lot of fallout in terms of how you live your life.”
Perfectionism can influence your spiritual life as well. Dr. Linda says the antidote to perfectionist tendencies is to deepen our understanding of God’s grace:
“A lot of times I don’t appreciate the grace that God has given me.”
“While it’s important for us to go and confess and repent when we when we sin and we’re not keeping God’s word, a lot of us have trouble, maybe because of this perfectionistic background, accepting the grace and the love of God, and knowing that He who began a good work in us will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).”
“So we know that we’re not perfect and we can never be, and yet we still have that tendency to not appropriate that grace that Christ so wonderfully given us.”
Dr. Linda Mintle is a licensed marriage and family therapist, a licensed clinical social worker and national expert on relationships and the psychology of food, weight and body image. She’s a best-selling author with 19 book titles to her credit and hosts The Dr. Linda Mintle Show.
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