Freedom From Perfection, Introduction
Hello, my name is Sandy Cooper, and I’m a recovering perfectionist. In the past 20 years, God has completely freed me from various heavy burdens: habitual lateness, busyness, people pleasing and legalism, just to name a few ginormously paralyzing ones. But perfectionism? She still lives here, in the recesses of my brain. And she’s getting on my nerves.
I don’t like the perfectionist side of me very much. I mean, she’s not so bad when I need to organize a closet or edit a manuscript or sanitize a toilet. But in the other 95% of my life, she’s downright oppressive. And, honestly, it’s the oppression I hate. For instance, she’s not helpful at all when I’m dealing with children. She’s a TERRIBLE marriage counselor. She seriously messes with my self-esteem. And she taunts me while I attempt to move through my daily list of household chores, plan and enjoy a family vacation or write a witty yet spiritually profound blog post.
So, in honor of my bondage, I am starting a series on overcoming perfectionism. I have no idea how long it will last, because it’s sort of a series-in-the-making. But I am going to explore some of these concepts:
1. Why is perfectionism so bad?
2. What is the difference between perfectionism and excellence?
3. What is the difference between mediocrity and contentment?
4. What did Jesus mean when He said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect”? (Matthew 5:48)
5. What is the connection between perfectionism and procrastination?
6. What is the root of perfectionism? Is it a temperament thing? An environmental thing? A spiritual thing? A combination of all three?
7. How do we overcome perfectionism and walk in freedom?
So, as we begin, I’d love your input. Answer me a few questions, if you will:
1. Do you struggle with perfectionism? Please identify thyself.
2. How is perfectionism most burdensome to you? When and how does it show up where it bothers you or hinders you the most?
Okay, boys and girls. Go out and gather your perfectionist friends and tell them to come visit me. The fun starts on Monday. Assuming, of course, that I’m not organizing a closet or sanitizing a toilet.
Original Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/32785760@N02/
Version of photo used in this blog post is altered from original version
I don't think I have this trait. For some things, I strive for what I feel is my best…move toward excellence as much as is possible and on a case by case basis. But for other things, I feel "good enough is good enough." I do have some "control" issues but don't really feel they are "perfectionism" issues. I could be wrong? If you are a perfectionist, do you know you are one?
Um, yes. I am a perfectionist. In certain areas of my life, it is rampant, but in other areas, not so much. Sometimes the details are CRUCIAL and other times, not so much.
I think it is most ugly in my parenting — I always had very high expectations placed on me and it is a DAILY battle not to do that with my own children.
If I am not paying attention to it, my perfectionism can make me very judgemental . . . "I am a better perfectionist than you." Such ridiculous thinking.
I think Satan was the original perfectionist . . . he wanted to be like God. YIKES.
Looking forward to the series, Sandy.
Yes, I think I'm one in some things, not all. (I think that still qualifies me:)
I don't believe that I am a perfectionist, however I live with a couple of them. I'm looking forward to your new series! Your writing is so clever!
I think Glenda hit it on the head…I think perfectionism is rooted in pride, in that fallen part of us that desires to be like God…in a bad way. For me, perfectionism manifests in NOT getting much done, and instead of being a neat freak, I end up more of a messy. If you can't do it perfect, why bother to do it at all? Perfectionism has led to not accomplishing anything at all. Awful trap to be in! I'm working my way out of that pit!
This will definitely be an interesting series! I'll be back!
Oh wow. Mrs. Perfect lurks at my door EVERY day. Thank you for tackling these questions… and REALLY wrestling with them!!! I actually just blogged about my insecurities about being a mom! And I think that Mrs. Perfect is behind it! Thank you! Look soooo forward to this
Sandy… thank you… thank you for your LOVING… oh so LOVING words! I have looked through your blog more and more and I love it. Thank you for taking the time to write to me. And for blessing me. YES… would LOVE it if we lived near by!
*Mining For Diamonds* I'm with you. If it can't be perfectly, why bother? And when I do attempt to do "it" whatever "it" may be, I over do it and get frustrated and very grumpy. Looking forward to this one Sandy!
I've just read Noah's story. And I just love you. My heart breaks. And it's revived at the same time. (sorry for commenting on this post… i wanted to make sure you got it). As you've probably picked up by reading "our story"… I really had a tough time with God. At times… I almost gave up on Him… and I didn't even really have a reason (like you had!). Oh goodness thats so humbling. Through this "darkness" that is almost still hanging on… I've stopped with all my "God talk". Going to other blogs I am sometimes turned off by all the "God talk". Or maybe I should say, "Christian talk". And let me tell you… you are something different. You are as real as the real deal you could ever get. Thank you for helping heal my heart from some of the wounds it received by the "Christian Church". I was as thick into "all that talk" as one could get. I hope this isn't confusing. I wrote about it a few days ago… my post: "Dear God… love, missing you". And, if you get a chance to go there… I want to tell you that you remind me of my Grandmother that I talk about. hehe… not that you are old or anything… hehe. Its just the way you live that i love. Thank you. I'm VERY serious… You've helped heal a part of me.
Yep, that me, total perfectionist. I try to control it, but most of the time, my perfectionism controls me.
I'm burdened by the constant fear of not doing enough, being enough, or producing enough.
I worry this is something if I don't get ahold of, I will pass to my kids.
Not sure where she came from, but Mrs. Perfectionist definitely lives inside of me. Sometimes she even tries to mask herself with jealousy. I seem to always have a constant struggle with something in this area. From being the perfect wife, having the perfect job, raising my daughter as the perfect mother, making sure everything is in it's "place" at home, sometimes even trying to be the "perfect christian" (I'm so far from this one)!! I could go on and on….
I am SO excited for this series! As always, great topic to talk about Sandy!
I'll be back (in my terminator voice 🙂
Yes, I am a perfectionist and it's rooted in my fear that if I am not perfect, I will not be loved. I mean, that is what it all boils down to. So, I figure that my failures in life have been due to my not being perfect enough. So I strive to be perfect in everything that I do and yet cannot be all things to all people and be true to who I am.
So yeah, I would say I have issues with this…. =)
I can't wait. I'm recovering or struggling or something like that too.
I love your pictures. Your house the night before Christmas is beautiful. As your children's smiles baking cookies.
Days-Gone-Haywire is a favorite post. Were you here this weekend?
I'm with Emily… if I can't do it completely & near perfect then I don't do it at all. I think the "perfectionist" is a relative of the "procrastinator"!
Just looked at your Christmas pics and remembered that I used to put tinsel on the tree ONE strand at a time… how bad is that???
I got the book!!! YAHOOOO! I jumped up and down when it arrived in the mail. And then I jumped up and down again when I saw your sweet hand written little note. I love hand written notes. THANK YOU SO MUCH for sending me Made to Crave! I know I'm gonna really enjoy it!
I'm a perefectionist, too. And I haven't always been that way. It's so weird. I'm really not sure what happened. I deal with it…in pretty much every area of my life: 1)Working out – If I run 2 miles I feel like I should have ran 3. If I run 3 miles I feel like I should have ran 4 and so on. 2) The cleanliness of my home. 3) Cooking – I think it should always look like the picture in the cookbook. 4) Parenting ….and I could go on and on. It zaps my energy – fills me with guilt – and rids me of joy. Clearly…I need this series you are doing. Thank you, friend.
Have a wonderful week! And thanks again…for the book and for your rockin' blog.
Love and blessings,