I spent a good portion of my life as a perfectionist. I don't know if I was subconciously trying to keep up with my older sister who graduated first in her medical class or if I am naturally anxious and driven, but my obsession to be the best at everything nearly killed me.
Please, I repeat please, do not attempt to do this at home.
I wanted the immaculate house, the stellar grades, the flawless life. By forty, or so, I was so tired I could hardly function. I couldn't sleep, eat, or live well. I was an absolute wreck.
Our culture preaches perfectionism. Teachers encourage us to get superior grades so that we can earn scholarships. Home improvement channels convince many that they must have the latest kitchen, bathroom, or landscape design. Magazines celebrate physical perfection, fame, and wealth. It's enough to make a person crazy!
Think about the thoughts you hear running around in your head: "Should have," "could have," "must," "have to," "would have." The list of self-berating thoughts goes on and on and on. We over-schedule, over-work, and over-do, and find ourselves emotionally and physically spent.
So if you find you're being a little too hard on yourself, here are a few suggestions to make your life more peaceful:
Schedule some time for self-renewal. Take the time to pray, meditate, and enjoy the beauties of nature. Give yourself permission to just be. God does not expect us to run faster than we can walk, and too many of us are trying to do that. Slow down. Smell the roses. Listen to the birds singing. Just be.
Manage your time. Eliminate unnecessary activities that are draining your spirit. Do your children have to be enrolled in five activities after school? Do you have to do everything asked of you? Can you say "no" to a few unessential things so you can say "yes" to more fun, rewarding activities?
Celebrate your humanity. Pat yourself on the back when you make a mistake and say, "Wow, I'm human! Isn't it wonderful that I'm alive!" During the day replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations. You might say to yourself, "I am peaceful, loving, and calm person," or "I am a precious child of God," or "I am beautifully and wonderfully made." Repeat these affirmations frequently throughout the day. Write them down and put them in often-viewed places. Include healing words, music, and media in your surroundings.
Have more fun. I used to feel that all my work had to be finished before I could play. Since I was raising four very active children, I worked too much and played too little. Take a break and enjoy life. Take a walk, go bowling, read a good book, play with a child. Life flies by and suddenly our knees quit working and our backs wear out. Treasure each day that God has given you and find ways to glorify Him as you celebrate life.
In your journal, list your strengths, your talents, and your blessings. Underneath the list, write in bold letters, "I am an amazing person. God loves me just the way I am." Read your lists whenever your are feeling unworthy, unloved, and inadequate. Remember, no one in the entire universe is just like you--with your unique gifts, personality, and skills. God invites you to enjoy everyday life--starting today.
© Carol Brown