A Recovering Perfectionist 8


“I am a recovering perfectionist. Before, I experienced that I and everyone else was always falling short, that who we were and what we did was never quite good enough. I sat in judgment on life itself. Perfectionism is the belief that life is broken…Wholeness lies beyond perfection. The life within us is diminished by judgment….” — Dr. Naomi Remen

…It wasn’t until I became a mother that I realized perfectionism is always the enemy of love. By definition, perfectionism is judging ourselves, our loved ones, and life as not good enough. We reject the present moment — peanut butter hands, tear-stained face and all — in favor of some idealized image that can never be real. We hold ourselves back from really loving, because how can you love while you’re judging? We think once we lose weight, our child gets through this phase, and our spouse gets a raise, our real life will start. But as John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans…” 

-from Daily Inspirations for Parents by Dr. Laura Markham

I’ve always been a perfectionist and while I know it’s not exactly healthy, I never thought about just how hurtful it can be until becoming a parent.

When I think of these lines in the context of my life as a mother the message is finally clear.

Perfectionism is the belief that life is broken.

How can I be “okay” with being a perfectionist with that definition?

I know that this life is anything but broken.

My need for everything to be “perfect” is actually me judging myself, my loved ones, and my life as not good enough.

I know that my loved ones are more than good enough. My life is more than good enough. And yes, even, my SELF is more than good enough.

We reject the present moment — peanut butter hands, tear-stained face and all — in favor of some idealized image that can never be real.

My goal for this blog, and this life, is to learn to “live in the moment and make it beautiful”—no matter how ugly, hard, or imperfect.

How dare I reject a moment with my child for not being pretty, or perfect enough?

We hold ourselves back from really loving, because how can you love while you’re judging

Why should I hold myself back from loving…

myself, my loved ones, my life

100%?

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Let this be a reminder.

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8 thoughts on “A Recovering Perfectionist

  • DeFakto

    As picky as I am, I have long learned to accept that no collection of art is perfect, especially to the artist who created it. So now, I see the imperfections as part of what makes it art and leaves room for me to create more with hopes to improve.

    • phalterman Post author

      I totally agree in terms of creativity…I always remember this pottery metaphor when I feel paralyzed by the fear of perfection in my writing:
      “The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the ‘quantity’ group: fifty pounds of pots rated an ‘A’, forty pounds a ‘B’, and so on. Those being graded on ‘quality’, however, needed to produce only one pot—albeit a perfect one—to get an ‘A’. Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the ‘quantity’ group was busily churning out piles of work—and learning from their mistakes—the ‘quality’ group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.” –From Art & Fear

  • Amy

    Right on… this has been a much discussed subject here in the past few weeks and i love your perspective! Somehow we do need continual reminders of this. It takes practice and discipline to train ourselves to think about it differently.

    • phalterman Post author

      Yes, and for me, writing it down has always helped me to “set it in stone” and help my brain to change perspectives!

  • Parla

    i feel this so much in my life. i have always been a perfectionist, and it is something God is continually working on in me. thank you so much for the reminder!