Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Progress Not Perfection: The Destructive Nature of Perfectionism

I know that it may not seem like it, as my weaknesses can be glaringly obvious most of the time, but perfectionism is woven through every thread of my life and can become a destructive force if I'm not careful.

After trying unsuccessfully many times to perfectly follow a diet and exercise plan, I finally accepted my imperfections going in and walked through the challenges to reach my goal of 30 pounds of weight loss in 12 Weeks.  So, once I gave up perfection, I had success.  It seems counter-intuitive but it really works that way.

The Problem

Deep down, I expect myself to be perfect in every area of  my life.  I expect to be the perfect husband, the perfect son, the perfect brother, the perfect father, the perfect supervisor and the perfect employee.  With these perfectionistic aspirations, I refuse to accept myself when I make mistakes and beat myself up continuously when I do make them.  I develop completely unrealistic expectations of myself and wallow in frustration as I can't reach my own expectations.  I become paralyzed in my frustrations and fears of not measuring up.  The ironic thing is, as my frustration increases, my expectations become even greater, and my actual growth and success stops or goes backwards.

I see this perfection glowing in other people's lives and see how it negatively affects them as well.  We all have a gap between who we really are and who we want to be.  As realistic expectations border on unrealistic expectations and our aspirations become perfectionistic, we actually achieve less and this gap between who we are and who we want to be become widens.

The Solution

When we expect perfection from ourselves, we are really playing God.  We are saying that his GRACE is not enough to make up for our weaknesses.  We refuse to accept that we are human and humans make mistakes.  I think there's an underlying pride in many, if not all of us that says we can and should be perfect.

Slowly, but surely, I'm finally accepting that I'm not perfect, but PERFECTLY HUMAN.  Perfectly Human means that I will make mistakes, but can learn and grow from them along the journey.  God's Grace, through Jesus, is enough to make up for my mistakes and through Jesus, I have the right to be wrong sometimes.  Wow, doesn't that take off the pressure a little bit. 

Facing any challenge with this attitude, accepting challenges and mistakes along the way as part of being human, will allow you to face the challenge with calmness, confidence and strength.

What About You?

Does expecting perfection prevent growth and progress in your life sometimes?


  1. Aaron, This is a lovely reminder for all of us. Once we embrace our humanness and learn to hand the rest over to God, amazing things do happen. We just have to get out of our own way, accept our imperfections and let God work His miracles. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt journey with us.

  2. Kathy, Thank you for your kind comments. I love the way you described this phenomenon. Do your best, accept your humanness and turn the rest over to God. I think that is a great recipe for whatever goals you are trying to reach.