• Guy Gourley

How to Escape the Perfectionism Trap

How to Escape the Perfectionism Trap Lesson #1 Perfectionism is a harsh taskmaster. Once you let perfectionism start dictating your story or your life, fear will soon render you powerless. Yes, there is a place for doing “it” right, but people and relationships are messy. Life is messy. They don’t always turn out the way we want. Here’s hope. There is freedom in messiness. I know there are some perfectionists and Type A personalities cringing right now, but hang on. Messy is healthy. That’s right, you heard me. Look no one has it altogether. I know it looks like that mom down the street is a super mom but she’s struggling too. That man next door looks so successful but he’s got his own struggles too. How do I know? Well, first, I’m a fellow struggler. Second, after 22 years of being a therapist, I can tell you they are struggling too, even if it doesn’t look like it from the outside. There is a point where you have to trust God that he is going to speak through you and ask Him to help you surrender that critical voice in your head. In professional speak; we call it “self talk.” But it is more than self talk sometimes it is reliance on self more that “God talk”, reliance on Him. There is a point where you have to step out believing that God is going to work through you and let that voice of fear dry up. Are you waiting for the “perfect time” to get started? Are you waiting for “when we get through this then…?” Everyone is in the same boat. The only difference between those who “do” and those who “don’t” is the willingness to do the things others won’t. Everyone struggles from time to time with doubt, but it is draining you of energy, hope, and joy. Now, is the time to take a risk and trust that good things can happen from one small step. You’ll never know the great things God has for you if you don’t jump. Lesson #2: Freedom to Jump. One of the ways you can learn to leap is to think of excellence, not perfection. Excellence is a mindset that says, “I’m going to do the very best I can the time the I have, the resources and the gifts I possess and leave the rest to God. Excellence means you are willing to make mistakes and learn from them. It means when kids have had double ear infections, you haven’t slept, the dog has thrown up on your new carpet and it is the melting hour between 5pm and 8pm you did the very best you could. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you conquered. Yes, there will days when it is not pretty, but you will have prevailed. Yes, there is always more you could do, but there is a point when whatever you’ve been “dwelling on” is draining you. We are not overwhelmed so much by what we have to do as much as what we’re not doing. Most of the time the things we fear the most about completing a task turn out to be far less burdensome once we’ve taken that first step. It doesn’t have to be “perfect” it just has to be done. The performance and perfectionism trap is a killer so remember God is going to work through you. Don’t hold back, get it done and leave the rest to Him. Lesson #3: The difference between perfectionism and excellence is anxiety. When I think something has be a certain way, anxiety starts to ramp up. Creativity unleashes that anxiety because it sees many options, not just one. Comparison to others often hinders us; it only makes us more anxious. So, before you even start, brainstorm. Think of the multiple options that are available to you. Tunnel vision only increases your anxiety. Create multiple ways that can you achieve your goal. Relax, trust, create, risk and enjoy. What will you do? God is going to use you greatly! Just jump!

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