Imperfect thoughts on perfectionism

A purist would say I could not be a perfectionist because my house is not clean and I have toddler snot on my shirt.

I don’t have the good kind of perfectionism, the kind that makes you not only bring changes of clothes for your children when you go out, but an extra shirt for yourself in case of boogery hugs. That kind of person is probably vigilantly watching and catches any offending substance with a handy Kleenex before it could even happen anyway.

Yet I am a perfectionist, in that I believe if I can’t do something perfectly, I shouldn’t bother. I do it with housecleaning, dieting, and hey, let’s just get it all out there, I do it with my parenting and even my bills.

I periodically get an email newsletter from a like-minded hippie lady, the Urban Homemaker, and today she addressed this topic in a way I found helpful, and I’d like to pass on what she said. She is an “I love Jesus,” back-to-basics hippie lady, as I am and aspire to be, although she would not probably accept my brand of Jesus loving. So, it’s a little sermony, I’m warning you now, but I really recommend her site.

If you have my little problem of sloppy perfectionism, or even the “good” kind of perfectionism, it makes a good read. She was reporting on a talk she gave about “What I Wished I Had Known;” she talked about sundry home management, baking, parenting things, but focused in part on her spiritual journey. Here are her words:

I talked about what I wished I’d known about ungodly perfectionism. What I know now, is that allowing perfectionism and comparisons to go on in our mind is quite a prevalent and insidious, maybe even rampant problem among Christian women.

Regardless of your personal struggles, I believe it is very hard for women to see that an effective tool in the enemy’s arsenal is designed to keep our eyes off of God and on our circumstances.

This evil attack takes place in our minds and seeks to destroy us, our families, our joy, and our peace just through our thoughts.

Here is my working definition of Perfectionism:

  • A sense of drivenness.
  • Continued feelings of not being good enough.
  • Deep underlying need to control one’s life.
  • Excessive striving after reward and recognition.
  • Perpetual jealousy of others and a making of comparisons. Again, it is the idea that so and so has more money, better husband, nicer house, higher achieving kids, gorgeous clothes, great figure, she’s a great cook and on and on it goes.
  • It robs our peace, it can put us into a depression.

The thoughts go through our mind over and over, accusing us and discouraging us. These thoughts can literally make us sick.

[Click here if you are interested in reading the text of her presentation, What I Wish I’d Known]

–back to MamaMelodrama:

“I can’t start, because I won’t do it well enough” has been a wonderful way for the little red guy on my shoulder to get me to not do anything at all. To do my best and give God the rest (rhyme unintended) would take me a lot farther.

I don’t know about you, but this is food for my brain to munch on tonight.

1 reply
  1. Laura
    Laura says:

    I always say I’m a perfectionist, but that perfectionism doesn’t mean you are (because that is impossible). It means that I have unrealistic and unattainable standards for myself and therefore live my life constantly berating my self for it and never feeling good enough. No, it’s not a good way to live. I know.


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