Thursday, November 19, 2015

Perfectionism and Perfect Peace

The more things I have to do in a day, the easier it is to lose my centre. Getting stressed just takes a little bit of necessary hurry and a sense that I am just not getting my to do list done. Part of the stress is my perfectionist tendencies, which I have never been able to turn off completely. That nagging voice in your head, that you didn't do that specific task to satisfaction or that you can no longer complete it perfectly.

My standards for myself and even for others in my life, at times, have always been high. I was that student who simply had to get that A++. It is how I felt good about myself and it how I defined my self worth. This drive to achieve made group projects a nightmare, especially in high school. Can anyone say control freak?

My desire to control others also manifests itself in emotional manipulation, which I am quite good at. I know exactly how to push a family members buttons to get the response I am hoping for. I am trying to reform, and somewhat succeeding at no longer doing this unhelpful and unhealthy habitual behaviour.

I am exploring ways to let go of perfectionism. In my Wellness Recovery Action Plan group, they are encouraging me to learn to relax and realize no one is perfect and that goals have to realistic and achievable. In some ways high standards push me to succeed, but at what cost?

It costs me my peace, my sense of well being, and my joy. It creates anxiety and breeds discontent and ingratitude. It also makes me difficult to live with, especially if I am being extremely stubborn and obtuse. My Mom used the Dutch word "dwarse" to describe me sometimes. I think the English equivalent is "muleheaded."

I need to rethink what constitutes success. Maybe it is not completing tasks perfectly and perfectly on time. Maybe it is treating people as you would want to be treated, even if the dinner doesn't turn out or there is not the ingredients available for the recipe you want to make. Relationships are more important and lasting than a dinner, which in a week from now, no one will even recall. 

I also need to handle constructive criticism a little better. It shouldn't be viewed as an attack on me personally, but as an opportunity to grow and learn. The thing is I can articulate what I need to change, but it is so hard to be a recovering perfectionist. Still, recognizing change is necessary is step one in the reformation process. The other steps take a little bit more work, sadly.


Mrs. Gryce said...

I still have a hard time accepting criticism. Even if it's constructive, I always take it personally. It's all shame-based...which so hard to work through. Recognizing this pattern and exploring why I have it, are the first of many steps to my healing.

Suzanne den Boer said...

Yes, so hard to stop those habits of the heart and mind. I am uber sensitive and I seem to pick out all the negative things in all the things a person says and focus on those, even if they also said a lot of positive things as well. But I think there is hope for both of us, that we can change with the help of family, friends, and God.