The dangers of being a perfectionist

The danger of being a perfectionist I used to take pride in the fact that I was a perfectionist.

I mean, surely wanting things to be perfect is a good thing, right? Perfect grades, perfect body, perfect behavior…perfect life.

Who wouldn’t want that?

I loved watching movies and TV shows and reading books that depict what I liked think was the standard to strive for. The beautiful girl with a perfect family who finally gets the perfect guy by the time the show/movie/book ends. I always gravitated toward friends who seemed to have it all together. They were, (and still are), high-achievers with a lot going for them.

I knew that I compared my life to that, to other people, whether fictional or not. After every movie, book, encounter with someone I admired, I felt I had a better idea of what it meant to be perfect and what I needed to work toward.

Somehow I never took into account my high-achieving friends’ flaws, or the fact that the movie/book/show wasn’t real, the characters and their lives weren’t real. Even though I understood it was fiction, or that my friends weren’t actually perfect, I didn’t consider that when I compared myself to them.

This, of course, led to a lot of unhappiness. We all know “comparison is the thief of joy,” especially comparison to a standard that isn’t real. But I refused to see that, I thought that any unhappiness I felt was because I wasn’t enough, I wasn’t working hard enough to attain my standard. And I felt that when I finally did, I would be happy.

During my therapy sessions for my eating disorder, this search for perfection surfaced. It had never occurred to me that this was a bad thing, much less the reason for my continual feelings of unhappiness and inadequacy…and even my eating disorder.

I think that a lot of us struggle with this issue. The little voice in our heads that continually tells us we are not enough, we need to work harder, we need to be perfect, and when we hear it we accept it as truth.

It’s not. That whisper is a lie from Hell. This is the truth:

“I praise you, Lord, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:13-14.

God made us; intentionally and unequivocally. You have been on His mind for all of eternity. And He made you specifically for a unique role and purpose that no one else can fulfill.

“Perfect” is a lie that you can never attain and that will steal your joy and prevent you from fulfilling your purpose and understanding your beauty and value.

The Catechism tells us that “Human is the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake”,220 and he alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, in God’s own life. It was for this end that he was created, and this is the fundamental reason for his dignity.” CCC 356.

It is the fact that God made you that you are valuable, not because of what you do or don’t do, say or don’t say etc.

I tell you this to keep it in mind next time you feel that how much you accomplish or how well you do something or how you look determines your worth. You have worth and dignity because you are human.

Understand that you are valuable, worthy, beautiful and loved.

Not because I say so but because it’s true. No one is perfect, the sooner we can embrace this and accept ourselves flaws and all, the sooner we can move forward to grow in virtue and fulfill our unique role.

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One thought on “The dangers of being a perfectionist

  1. Pingback: High Standards: why I have them and why you should too | First Class Act

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