Perfectionism Will Ruin Your Relationships
Where’s my screwdriver?
That question can be helpful or harmful.
For my family and me, it was harmful. My oldest daughter and I just returned home from a two-week mission trip in Africa, and the first thing out of my mouth when we pulled into the garage was, “Where’s my screwdriver? It should be on the pegboard.”
Because my internal life was exhausted and out of control, I wanted to take control of things in my external life (my stuff and the people around me). My internal life was not perfect, and it was difficult for me to accept my imperfections. This happens in many close relationships, whether in parenting, marriage, or with work colleagues.
When our internal life is “broken” we tend to look for ways to solve it or suppress the bad feelings we have.
We solve these problems in one of four ways:
- Denial – “I don’t feel bad, and there’s nothing wrong with me.”
- Addition – “I feel bad, and I don’t want to feel bad, so I will numb it.”
- Isolation – “I am bad, and nobody wants me or loves me.”
- Connection – “I feel bad, and I need to be loved and accepted by others.”
The Big Picture
We are not All GOOD or ALL BAD instead; we are a combination of both. Therefore, we need to be in healthy relationships with others who accept their reality (they are not ALL GOOD OR ALL BAD) and can freely give grace and acceptance to each other.
This is why deep friendships and small groups that allow vulnerability are vital. Healthy and safe friendships give us the space to be authentic.
Skills To Learn
Move from Transparency to Vulnerability – find safe people you can be honest with about who you are, and learn to confess to them. The word confess means, to tell the truth about who you are.
Be Gracious and Accepting – model what you need in your current relationships. We need grace from others to accept the imperfections in ourselves—model that same grace to others.
Find a Group – Commit to being in relationship even when you “don’t feel like it.”
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Cloud, Dr. Henry and Townsend, Dr. John (1999). Boundaries in marriage; Understanding the choices that make or break loving relationships. Zondervan Publishing.
Gottman, Dr. John (1999). The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work. Harmony Publishing.