The Truth about Perfectionism (and how to overcome it!)

“Perfectionism is just a high-end, haute couture version of fear… just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat, pretending to be elegant when actually it’s just terrified.” -Elizabeth Gilbert

I love this quote because I think that it’s so easy to get caught up in the perfectionism trap, and to justify it to ourselves. It’s easy to take a look at our perfectionism and call it “striving for excellence” or some other, better-sounding phrase. And it’s also easy to fall into the lie that perfectionism can be a good thing, because it produces results.

Perfectionism isn’t life-giving. It’s death-bringing. Click To Tweet

But in reality, perfectionism is just one big trap. It’s a liar that sucks the life out of you by forcing you to constantly perform, perform, perform. Instead of being fueled by your God-given creativity, perfectionism fuels you through fear: fear of man, fear of failing; fear of shame and judgement. Perfectionism isn’t life-giving, it’s death-bringing.

If you’ve found yourself caught in the perfectionism trap lately, here’s 5 things you can do to get out of it:

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1. Take a step back

Whatever it is, whether Instagram or work, looks or school; friends or family. When you start comparing yourself to others, getting stressed out, or being super-conscious and obsessive about a certain area of your life, be intentional about stepping away from that area for a bit and bringing it to the Lord instead. We fall deeper and deeper into perfectionism the more we surround ourselves with the things that trigger that in us. In order to overcome perfectionism, we have to take the time to stop and listen to what God is saying about us, and choose to give God’s voice more authority in our hearts than the voices of this world.

2. Enter in intentionally

After you take a step back, enter back in with intentionality. Be aware of places in your life that perfectionism wants to take hold of, and be intentional about checking your heart before and after you enter into those areas. Make sure that you are constantly saturating yourself with God’s truth and truths about your identity as His Daughter. When you enter into a space that could trigger your perfectionism, enter clothed with the armor of God and the Shield of Faith, so that you can extinguish all the flaming perfectionism lies of the enemy.

3. Take things one step at a time

It’s easy to get so caught up in the end goal of a project that you find yourself frozen by all the unattainable, perfectionistic ideals and visions you have that you’re unable to start the task in the first place. When that happens, it’s important to try and simply focus on the very first step, and then the step after that, and then the step after that. Instead of getting so focused on the finished product, try to break down and focus on each of the steps that you need to take to get there. And as you take each step, focus on doing that individual step to the best of your ability. This will make tasks easier to begin and do well. In fact, you may start to actually enjoy your work!

4. Mess up on purpose (yes, really!)

Perfectionism is rooted in fear of failure. And you can shake that fear of failure by intentionally “failing”, so that your brain and your heart can realize that failure isn’t the end of the world.

An example of how this works:

For me, I’m super perfectionistic about myself in photos. I will sit and analyze photos of myself for hours and, if I don’t look perfect, I won’t post the photo (or I’ll post it, then delete it, then post it again… Sorry anyone who has turned on post notifications for my Instagram account lol). So I’m working on breaking that habit right now, in this moment, by posting a photo that I don’t think I look perfect in because (true story) you can’t see my neck in this photo and so I feel  like I look like a turtle! It sounds so small and silly, but that’s what so many of these lies we believe about how we need to perform are- insignificant in the scale of eternity.

Intentionally breaking your perfectionism may feel like the biggest step in the world, but taking the step will help you to gain perspective and help free you from perfectionism’s lies.

5. Speak the Truth of Scripture over Yourself

“The LORD is within her, she will not fall.” This simple phrase from Psalm 46 is one that I cling to, constantly. It’s a reminder to me that my identity is safe and secure as a daughter of the King, and not reliant on my own works. When I read this or speak it over myself, it dismisses the lies of the enemy I struggle with the most and gives me the confidence to walk boldly to the Throne of Grace in times of need.

The Lord is faithful. He's started a good work in you, and He's going to complete it. You're a beautiful work in progress. Click To Tweet

The amazing thing about the Bible is that (when you have the Spirit) it has all the resources and words of truth we need to fully be the women we were created to be, and there is literally a verse that can speak to your heart in any and every situation. Read the scriptures, talk with the Lord, and find the verse or phrase or promise you need to speak over your head and your heart as you combat perfectionism.

And above all, remember that the Lord is faithful. He’s started a good work in you, and He’s going to complete it. You’re a beautiful work in progress 🙂

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