Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Perfectionist Trap - Part 2

What is perfectionism? 

A friend defined perfectionism as a constant search to fulfill an impossibly high standard. Often my impossible standard is a compilation of every good homemaker I've encountered in my entire life, either in person, books, or imagination. I compare the area another woman excels in with my area of weakness. I can't make pie crust like my mother-in-law. I didn't finish my spring cleaning like my neighbor. I can't think of fun children's projects like my friend does with her children. Instead of appreciating the strengths of other women, I beat myself up for not being the best of the best. No wonder I become discouraged!

Slowly, I have become aware of the trap of perfectionism.

  • Perfectionism ensnares me when I compare myself with other homemakers (real or imagined).

  • Perfectionism encourages me to procrastinate when I don't have the time, energy, or resources to do it “right."

  • Perfectionism discourages me from training my children to help because they can never reach my standards.

  • Perfectionism causes me to reject help from others because accepting help would expose my failure.

  • Perfectionism draws my attention to what is undone, not to what I have accomplished.

  • Perfectionism brings mental and physical exhaustion when I force myself to work toward impossible goals.

  • Perfectionism creates irritation when people, weather, or circumstances hinder my plans.

  • Perfectionism destroys the joy I find in serving my family because I'm not serving out of my love for Christ.

  • Perfectionism paralyzes me when I consider a daily job not worth the effort because I'll have to wash those same dishes and pick up the toys again tomorrow.

  • Perfectionism discourages me from showing hospitality, and I lose an opportunity to allow another woman to be refreshed by seeing my imperfection.

  • Perfectionism destroys my relationship with my sisters-in-Christ. When I compare myself with others, I am either proud of my success or defeated by my failure, and neither promotes unity or love.

  • Perfectionism often reveals pride. I am more concerned about what others think of me than what God thinks. The Bible says that pride is bondage. Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain.” (Psalm 73:6)

    We've defined perfectionism. Maybe we have even discovered it in our own life. Next, we'll look at what to do about it.


  1. You are nailing this pretty well, Gina.

    I remember a camp mixer interview from long ago with the questions of what was our greatest weakness and strength... One guy answered perfectionism for both. hmmmm, I guess so. Except it's much more of a challenge to keep it looking like a strength!

  2. Oh, I see myself in those words... Im so looking forward to reading about what we can do. Because I do allready try to fight some habits and didn't manage it by now.

  3. I appreciate your sharing your heart about this, Gina. I think you do an admirable job with four small children to care for. Thank you for taking the time to share so many good things via your blog.
    One phrase from The Fly Lady Book that has helped me with the temptation to put things off because I "don't have time to do it right" is her admonition that "Housework, even poorly done, blesses my home." I think of the old saying, "A lick and a promise."

  4. I am reading hungrily! Thanks for posting on this subject. I'll be back.

  5. This writing is like looking in a mirror. I do think I've learned to give a little while living in a 30' camper for the last 6 years. I have been forced to think about what is more valuable. I did have a melt-down about 6 months ago when my husband invited guests in while I was at work and my house was left that morning in a mess because I had not had any time the night before to clean up. I felt betrayed and embarrassed. God dealt with me harshly on that day. No doubt it will happen again, but I am praying that I learned from my sin and don't repeat it.

    Thank you for sharing your heart.

  6. "Perfectionism discourages me from training my children to help because they can never reach my standards." I am constantly struggling with this one. Can't wait to read more.

  7. Yes, I see myself in some of those points. I'm OK with letting my children help, but then it is often with things that their ages can handle. But sometimes, I don't want grown-up help, when I know a person won't do a nice or good enough job (but of course am not rude about it so I figure out a way to make it work or that they can help, or just go with it and inwardly get annoyed and maybe fix it later, taking more time than no help at all in the first place!). I gladly accept help if I know the person will do a nice job. This concept is wanting something done right, and it doesn't seem too odd to me, but it does seem to fit in with the above examples. Thanks for tackling this difficult issue. Shauna

  8. This should be called "The Pride Trap" There is nothing wrong with doing something well, the key is to give it to God and not keep it for yourself. If God wouldn't have given talent/s in the first place you wouldn't have them now. To be perfect is to be like God. Pride causes most if not all the problems in this article. The other half is cause by not doing you daily duty for God, and trying to perfect your life for Him, to please Him.
    The bigest thing is to know that it takes God to get us there and we can't do it ourselves!

  9. thank God, He knows we all suffer from this time to time. I have found that as I aged,my eyes became weaker and I needed glasses. I also discovered that my house is never so messy as when I wear my glasses.

    So I have been thinking for myself, that my lack of great vision actually enables me to see better,for I judge myself and others less harshly.

    Also,for all my friends that wear glasses, Please leave them at the door before coming in. I will do the same upon arrival at your door !!

    God is good!

  10. Thank you for a word to set my own life desires and dreams. I want His grace to overflow in all areas of my life not just my standard. Blessings Roxy

  11. Wow, an easy trap to fall into. Just today I was watching my daughter vacuum and I wanted to tell her the more "efficient" way to do it I had to remind myself (especially after reading your post yesterday) that the vacuuming was getting done and she was willingly helping. I reminded myself I have just a few short years before she leaves home and then I can do everything my way...but somehow I think I will miss days like today.

  12. Enjoying this series. I also find myself just giving up sometimes when I can't do something perfect as I think it should be or could be.


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