It seems that a lot of people fall into perfectionism, especially this time of the year. I know it is true of me.
I want Christmas to be perfect for my family, although no one seems to care about the amount of thought that I have put into every detail of the gift, meal or decorations. Not one person in my family or any of my friends have ever complained if the meal didn’t compare with that of a master chef. (They may poke fun at my attempts because my cooking is sometime questionable, but they don’t complain.)
Not one person has ever criticized a well-meaning effort, but still I worry. Is what I’m doing enough?
Please someone tell me that I’m not the only person who does this!
In fact, after doing a little research I have found that there are millions of people who display these thoughts and behaviors. In its most extreme form, it is a mental illness. Seriously! There are self-help books by the dozens.
I don’t think I’ve crossed the line, but I did almost have a nervous breakdown when the city came two days before Christmas and dug a hole in my front yard.
There are some things that we have no control over. In researching the topic, I have learned some things:
“Perfectionism is addictive, because when we invariably do experience shame, judgement and blame, we often believe it’s because we weren’t perfect enough. Rather than questioning the faulty logic of perfectionism, we become even more entrenched in our quest to look and do everything just right,” said Dr. Brene’ Brown, Author and Research Professor at the University of Houston on vulnerability, guilt and shame.
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“Perfectionism is not the key to success. In fact, research shows perfectionism hampers achievement and is correlated with depression, anxiety, addiction and life paralysis, or missed opportunities. The fear of failing, making mistakes, not meeting people’s expectations, and being criticized keeps us outside the arena where healthy competition and striving unfolds,” said Brown.
That sounds terrible!
Beliefnet, an online resource, offered an article “Three tips to overcoming perfectionism” by Adonis Lenzy.
1. Embrace failure. You are going to make mistakes. You are going to fail at doing something new. That’s perfectly OK to fail. What’s not OK is when you stop. You must learn to get over the fear of failure if you are ever going to do anything great.
“Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly, until you can learn to do it well.” - Zig Ziglar
2. Don’t worry about the opinions of others. You must remember that everyone is entitled to have his or her opinion. However, when you worry about those opinions, you fall into the trap of trying to make things perfect. This will only lead you to being stuck on the hamster wheel of perfectionism.
3. Try something new. This is a good thing to do, especially if you tend to struggle with being a perfectionist. It’s time for you to get out of your comfort zone. When you make it a habit of trying something new, it forces you to face the tendency of trying to be perfect.
Remember the first Christmas? I don’t recall anything in the Christmas story about Mary laying out a full meal for the wise men and shepherds. She had just given birth in a stable and that was God’s perfect gift. Only His love for us is perfect.
This Christmas, I’m striving to remember the reason for the season.
“I don’t have to be perfect, I just have to be me."