Monday, July 8, 2019

The Perfectionist in You

While you might not consider yourself a perfectionist, I would argue that we all can be perfectionistic about certain things very important to us.  I know what you are thinking.  "Just because I have high standards doesn't make me a perfectionist."  I'm not so sure though.

In my experience, the perfectionist in you and me comes out when we care a whole lot about something, often where others don't as much.  The rightness or wrongness - if that is even appropriate to determine - is situational at best.  There are some things to consider when determining if these high standards are wise or worth the fallout.

-God Trumps All.  If our obedience to God is on the line, then perfectionism is not what we are talking about.  There are more gentler and wiser ways of upholding God's standards than others, but obeying Him should always be a top priority.

-People Matter More Than Things.  Our relationships with other people should matter more than our things.  If our high standards cause us to mistreat those around us or ignore their needs, then we should reconsider.  When we enforce our standards - which often involves correcting others actions or ideas. - are we considering how it makes them feel?  Do you recognize and acknowledge their effort and intention before dismissing it as unacceptable or not good enough?  One of the reasons perfectionist people can feel so isolated is because their constant correction or demand on a matter causes others to feel discouraged and uncomfortable and therefore not want to come around as much.

-Time is Irreplaceable.  Having high standards often requires us to spend more time on something than others would.  Is it worth it? Are we forgoing really meaningful activities because of these standards?  Am I taking advantage of this season of life appropriately?  Young and single - are you traveling any?  Married without kids - are you taking risks like going back to school or traveling?  Have young kids - are you playing and adventuring with them?  Are you spending time with your living family members in light of time being so short?

-More Trouble Than It's Worth.  Is the time, energy and stress (on you AND others) worth this ideal outcome?  If we are talking surgery or bridge construction, I would say ABSOLUTELY!  There are circumstances that demand perfectionism because without it there is grand failure.  There are times in our lives when excellence and standards pay off a great dividend.  On the other side of the spectrum, there are matters of much less significance that perfectionism may only please a notion inside of yourself.  If you are the only one it is effecting, then no problems may arise short of a time management issue.

I believe we all have perfectionist tendencies sometimes, whether we realize it or not.  And ultimately that's the real issue - our awareness level.  Knowing that our standards are higher than others on a specific matter should help us be gentler with those around us.  Praising their efforts, educating them on your reasons for desiring a higher standard and asking for their patience can do wonders for our relationships.

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