Perfectionism is fear. It’s living every second of your life afraid that you’re not going to measure up, that somebody is going to reject you, or that you’re never going to amount to anything.
Perfection is the belief that IF you do everything JUST right, then you’ll avoid that rejection.
My story started before I can remember. I was extremely self-critical and had terrible self-esteem. I was constantly evaluating, over-analyzing, and over-complicating things in my mind. I was interpreting and internalizing EVERYTHING and I was hyper-sensitive to what others thought about me. As a child, if a teacher looked at me funny, I’d burst into tears. Because I believed I was a failure for disappointing them (later, I’ll write about how being a failure is a GOOD thing, but at that point in my life, I believed it was THE WORST thing).
Something miraculous happened that I can only describe as God stepping in to begin showing me a new way of thinking. The Bible says:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
– Philippians 4:8
It’s telling us to focus on what is good and to be thankful for the goodness of it and focus on things we do right and give glory to God for the achievement of it.
But this was a time in my life when I rarely read the Bible and God was getting tired of seeing me fall apart and he wanted to begin prepping me for His work. At that time, I had no idea I’d ever do His work and rarely sought contact with Him at all. So God used what he could to help me along.
I found myself in a college psychology class and as I was reading my textbook, I came across these words:
“[Albert] Ellis maintains that you feel the way you think. He argues that problematic emotional reactions are caused by negative self-talk, which he calls catastrophic thinking.”
– Psychology Applied to the Modern Life: Adjustment at the Turn of the Century, 2000 Weiten and Lloyd.
Yes! Those words, changed my life dramatically and I was hooked. I read the next couple of chapters from that textbook with great intensity and I worked to apply those principles to change the way that I think, interpret, and analyze people and situations.
Guess what? I started to feel better. My relationships changed, my work changed and the way I approached challenges changed. I was doing things I never would have had the guts to do before for fear of failure or looking stupid.
I scored myself a sweet job as a research assistant and joined a public speaking club where I eventually became a leader. Imagine that! It all started by changing my thought patterns and interpretations. Fast forward 15 years (well beyond the research assistant days) and I’m a wife and mother who is writing about her journey with overcoming perfectionism to inspire others to begin squashing their perfectionism too!
So squash it like a bug!
My Guide to Squashing Perfectionism
I’m going to walk you through what I did and what I’m still doing every single day to squash perfectionism and to live intentionally and joyfully. You’re reading the first post in this category of posts and it’ll go on for a VERY long time!
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P.S. If you’re joining me for the first time, here’s at peek at what you’ve missed so far…
The Squashing Perfectionism Journey
When I Began Squashing Perfectionism (This Post)