Dealing with Perfectionism

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

You're just a perfectionist! my mom said laughing. We were talking about the root of procrastination, which she figured was perfectionism; if you can't do it perfectly, you put it off. She was right, but it was no laughing matter. I'd struggled with perfectionism for years. It had made me an excellent singer, but a lousy student. I was either going to do something perfectly, or not try it at all. Schoolwork was left undone, new opportunities passed over, because I wasn't sure I could do them perfectly. Fear of failure haunted me at every corner, and it was ruining my life, but I knew that the root cause of perfectionism was much deeper than that, I just didn't know how to get to it.

Blogger Brene Brown's view on perfectionism hit the nail right on the head.
Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. It is not about healthy achievement and growth. It is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame. It’s a shield.....Perfectionism is not self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance. Research shows that most perfectionists were raised being praised for achievement and performance (grades, manners, rule-following, people-pleasing, appearance, sports). Somewhere along the way, we adopt this dangerous and debilitating belief system: I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it. *
Perfectionism comes from the lie that says that we are what we do. At the very core of perfectionism is the issue of identity. Her assessment was true, at least of me. I grew up being praised for what I did, but the problem was that in order to feel accepted, I had to replicate that action. I was never praised for who I was or for my efforts, and when I failed I felt the very heavy weight of rejection. Somewhere during those childhood experiences I bought the lie that I was what I accomplished and for years this kept me in bondage.

One day during a ministry event I was talking to God about this, and all of a sudden He spoke to me about my identity and it changed everything. All of a sudden, I didn't have to strive for acceptance, because I was already accepted. I didn't have to fear failure, because failure no longer came with rejection. I suddenly knew that I was no longer what I did or accomplished. I was someone new, someone worthy. My identity was no longer rooted in what I did, but in who I was in Christ.

Maybe you struggle with perfectionism. Maybe you find yourself in that cycle; the one where you either do it well or not at all. If you find yourself struggling daily with the fear of failure, or the fear of being useless, consider that at the very root of all is who you think you are. Let God tell you that, because once He does, I guarantee it will change everything.

*To read the rest of Brene Brown's blog, click here.


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