How does perfectionism protect us?
We buy into the lie that perfect is attainable – perfect is desirable – perfect will give us a sense of worth. If we execute flawlessly, we reason, then others might accept us. While we know we are flawed, our work may compensate for that failure.
In reality, perfection is an illusion and often subjective. Perfection is comparative, forcing a winner/loser mentality. Perfection is an end that discounts the process.
Thomas Edison once said I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
A perfectionist would quit before double digits. I’m not sure this perfectionist would continue after the first attempt.
Perfectionists associate a failed attempt with failure as a person. How could I be so stupid – so incompetent?! We believe that “a real________” (genius – inventor – teacher – writer – Christian) would never make such a mistake.
But here’s the thing. We not only quit the project … we continue to berate ourselves. Delilah has a foothold and she won’t let go. She kicks even harder when I’m down.
I would never treat another human being the way Delilah treats me. If someone is struggling, I would offer an encouraging word. I would try to help them up – not keep them down.
Why do I not extend the same common courtesies to myself? Why do I not feel worthy of patience or kindness or love?
The truth is I am worthy. We all are. And I think the Lord instructs us to treat ourselves with the same compassion as we would treat others.