Living in the United States in 2022 brings incredible pressure to be perfect. Especially with the continued growth of social media and internet use, flaws and mistakes are amplified. I think of the error made by Steve Harvey several years ago when he announced the wrong winner of a beauty pageant. Instead of shrugging their shoulders and letting it slide, people made fun of him for weeks and weeks. Memes and jokes abounded.
A study published in 2019 by the American Psychological Association asserts that perfectionism, defined as “a combination of excessively high personal standards and overly critical self-evaluations,” has grown tremendously in our time. It was surprising to me that this issue has been regularly studied since the ‘60s. The study explains the difference between personal and socially prescribed perfectionism; however, how we can overcome it is not described.
One of the causes identified for the growth in perfectionism is that many people have a poor perception of themselves and “feelings of unworthiness and shame.” While I believe that much of this misconception of one’s identity can and needs to be remedied by inner healing from God, we can still make our way down the path toward overcoming perfectionism by having a correct view of ourselves.
Essentially, I think if we can view our flaws correctly, we can begin to properly love ourselves and overcome perfectionism. I believe that the inability to do this plays a significant role in falling to the temptation that he or she need to reach society’s false ideals of perfectionism. One sees a flaw as an obstacle to fitting into the mold of society that they incorrectly think will make one acceptable and worthy of love, when in reality, our worth comes from our identity as God’s children.”
The first step to overcoming perfectionism is to view your flaws correctly. Seeing yourself as a human being, someone with good and bad qualities, will set you free from perfectionism and allow you to love others peacefully.
How shall we view our flaws and limitations? Here are five steps I have come up with to assist us in this mission.
- Read more fiction stories.This might be random, but something we get from reading that we don’t from consuming movies and television is a look into the interior life of others. One cause of perfectionism stems from the desire to belong. Discovering the thoughts of the characters through reading will help you recognize that you have many similarities with others. You are not an abnormal entity among humans. If you feel like you don’t know anyone you relate to, then you haven’t met enough people yet.
While it might seem like some are silly made up stories, there is still a lot of truth that can be found in them. This includes human qualities, personalities, emotions, and actions. Along with many themes that reflect what we experience in our lives, fictional stories have a lot to offer us in terms of learning about being human.
This will help you view yourself correctly, recognizing that your flaws are not as inflated as you think. It will also help you to see that you are not as abnormal as you may assume by not reaching the perfect ideal placed upon us by society.
- Spend more time with others.Another way to learn more about being human and counter perfectionism is to spend more time with real-life people. This will bring about the same understanding that reading will, and it will increase the gift of overlooking faults, as you will undoubtedly do this if you spend a lot of time with others. Spending time around good people will also show you that you are lovable despite having flaws.
Find ways to be around people in real life. You can join a club, participate in a sport, set up a regular meet-up with friends, have a monthly dinner, or more.
- Stop isolating your flaws away from your whole self.When thinking about yourself, there is the temptation to focus on only the things that are wrong with us. This is bad because it incorrectly assumes that you are only your flaws, altogether leaving out all your good qualities. No one is perfect. We all have flaws, so everyone can be seen as a monster if we only focus on each other’s shortcomings.
If you catch yourself focusing on some bad aspect about you, start recalling some of your good qualities. This is more than saying, “well at least I have great hair.” By doing this, you are living in reality by grasping more fully the entirety of who you are.
A good example of what you can say or think when applying this is, “Yes, I have “this fault”, but that is not all of who I am. I am a child of God and He has included so many good qualities and strengths when making me.”
- Develop your strengths.Keeping step three in mind, instead of focusing on your faults and how they make you less than others, you should be developing your strengths. This should not be done in competition with others, but to improve yourself. Thinking about yourself with regard to your strengths and how you can improve them will revolutionize your self-perception. Just like someone who grows stronger from going to the gym will begin to grow more confident, so too will you when you grow stronger in what you are good at.
- Spend time with God in scripture and prayer.Nothing will teach you more about who you are than God. If you spend time with Him by praying and reading the Bible, He will shape you to better understand yourself as a complete human with both good and bad traits, talents and flaws, strengths and weaknesses. He will help you to see that you are not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be discovered.
Spend time every day with God in prayer. Then give Him some more time by reading the Bible, where you will learn more about the human condition than anywhere else.
If you are looking for help with correctly viewing yourself and battling perfectionism, consider signing up for our one-on-one mentorship. We would love to assist you! You can find out more at www.zenithministries.com/mentorship or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-333-8978.