Are You a Perfectionist?

by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

WINNING WITH THE WORD

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Hello and Happy Day! This is Dr. MaryAnn Diorio, Novelist and Life Coach, welcoming you to another episode of Winning with the Word. Today is Monday, May 4, 2020. Today’s Podcast is Episode #18 in Series 2020 and is titled “Are You a Perfectionist?”

Perfectionism is a silent malady. It often afflicts people without their realizing it. I was once its victim but, by the grace of God, I have made enormous strides in overcoming this silent monster. By applying the Word of God to my life, I was able to discover how the enemy uses perfectionism to keep us in bondage. And, as always, God’s truth set me free!

What is perfectionism? Simply put, it is deriving our worth from our accomplishments instead of deriving it from God Who alone is the rightful source of our worth.

So, let me ask you? Are you a perfectionist? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. You think in “all-or-nothing” terms. There is no gray in your life. For example, if you are trying to lose weight but eat a doughnut, you figure you’ve blown it, so why not eat the whole batch? 

    SOLUTION: Recognize that life is not black-and-white. Sometimes it is gray.

  2. You determine your worth by your accomplishments. You don’t feel good about yourself unless you accomplish a lot. And you continually judge your worth by how much you have accomplished.

    SOLUTION: Recognize that you don’t have to earn your worth. God has already given it to you by virtue of creating you.

  3. You continually beat yourself up when you mess up. Your self-worth is conditional, based on how perfectly you do something. If you don’t do it perfectly, you are miserable.

    SOLUTION: Your worth is unconditional and does not depend on how well or how badly you do something.

  4. You do not like constructive criticism from others. Any corrective comment from another person is a personal threat to your self-worth because such a comment implies that you are not “perfect.”

    SOLUTION: Do not take constructive criticism personally for it is not meant to be that way. Accept it gratefully as a gift to make your life better.

  5. You include the word “should” as a major part of your vocabulary. I “should” plan a menu each week; I “should” call my best friend more often; I “should” read my Bible for at least one hour a day.

    SOLUTION: Give up the “tyranny of should” and learn to relax by simply doing your best.

  6. You take little time for yourself. You always put the needs of others above your own. You tell yourself that you will take time for yourself after you fulfill your responsibilities to others. But you never take that time for yourself.

    SOLUTION: Treat yourself with the same love and respect with which you treat others. Make time for yourself and do so without guilt. You are worth it because God said so!

  7. You always live in the future, thinking, “I’ll feel good about myself when . . . .” The truth is that a perfectionist will never feel good about himself because he feels his accomplishments are never enough.

    SOLUTION: The future never comes because it is always today. Learn to be thankful for where you are today. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

There is a huge difference between perfectionism and excellence.  Perfectionism means doing something perfectly, which is impossible this side of Heaven. Excellence means doing one’s best. But not only does excellence means doing one’s best; it also means being content with one’s best, for one’s best is the most anyone can do. 

If you are struggling with perfectionism, take your struggle to the Lord. Ask Him to change your thinking to align with His Word. Ask Him to reveal to you that He loves you with an everlasting love, and that nothing you do or don’t do can ever change that truth.

The starting point of freedom from perfectionism is Jesus Christ. If you have not received Him as your Savior and Lord, I urge you to do so now. 

Pray this simple prayer with me:

Lord Jesus, I come to You now, asking You to forgive me of trying to earn my worth through my accomplishments. I receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You that I have worth simply because You have already given it to me. In Your Name I pray. Amen.

If you prayed this simple prayer, please write to me at drmaryann@maryanndiorio.com. I would like to send you a little booklet that will help you get started in your relationship with Jesus Christ. I also encourage you to get yourself a Bible and read it every single day, starting in the Gospel of John, which is in the second half of the Bible. The Bible is God’s love letter to you, His manual for your life. In it He reveals Who He is, and He instructs you how to live.

Finally, ask the Lord to lead you to the church of His choice for you where you can learn about Him and have fellowship and encouragement with other Christ-Followers.

For those of you who may not know, I write fiction about many of the issues I deal with in this blog and podcast. My latest novel, In Black and White, recently won First Place in the Historical Fiction Category of the 2020 Christian Indie Book Awards Contest. It is the compelling love story between a white woman and a black man as they face overwhelming obstacles, both societal and familial, that threaten to destroy their love. You can purchase your copy in print or ebook format on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and other popular venues. 

   

 

 

 

 

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For additional resources on living the abundant life in Christ, visit my website at maryanndiorio.com.

If you have been blessed by these messages, I also invite you to become a Winning with the Word patron on Patreon. As a patron you will enjoy special benefits only for my patrons. Just go to Patreon.com and search for Winning with the Word to join. I would like to thank all of my patrons who are making this podcast possible. It is now reaching 19 countries throughout the world. I could not do this without you.

Thank you so much for listening. This is Dr. MaryAnn Diorio, novelist and life coach, reminding you that God loves you just as you are and just where you are, and that He will help you to keep on winning with the Word.

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Now it’s your turn:  “What steps have you taken to overcome perfectionism?”  Please leave your comment in the Comment Box below. Thank you!

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Copyright 2000-2020 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be published or printed in any form whatsoever without the written permission of Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. You may contact her at info@maryanndiorio.com to request permission.

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How to Accept Yourself Just the Way You are

by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
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I have a confession to make. I am a recovering perfectionist. Crooked pictures hanging on my walls send me into a flurry of straightening. Papers stacked in messy piles on my desk demand my making all the edges even. Clothes hanging out of order in my closet scream for re-ordering.

Perhaps you’ve never dealt with this evil spirit of perfectionism–and yes, it is an evil spirit–but if you have, there is hope for you.perfekt

First of all, let’s define perfectionism. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines perfectionism as follows: “a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable.”  Does this describe you? If so, I can relate.

The question is, what is “perfection”?

One online dictionary says this: Perfection is “the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes perfection as “something that cannot be improved.”

Interestingly, the word perfectionism does not appear in the original version of this dictionary as written by Noah Webster in 1828. In that dictionary, the word perfectionist is defined as “an enthusiast in religion.”  Could perfectionism be related to legalism?  I think so.

Another definition of perfectionism is this: “a doctrine holding that religious, moral, social, or political perfection is attainable, especially the theory that human moral or spiritual perfection should be or has been attained.” The truth is that perfection is not attainable on this earth and never will be.

My personal definition of perfectionism is more in line with that of the American Psychological Association: “the need to be or appear perfect.” Notice the word need. This definition implies that perfectionism fills a need, albeit in an unhealthful way. It also leads us to examine the root causes of perfectionism. Why would one need to be perfect? Why would one need to appear perfect? Does it have anything to do with acceptance? Acceptance by others or, even more important, self-acceptance?

Let’s take a closer look, for only when we destroy the root of perfectionism can we eliminate the fruit of perfectionism.

A perfectionist is someone who derives her worth from her performance. Not a good thing. In fact, to attempt to derive one’s worth from one’s performance is to believe the lie that one’s worth comes from one’s performance. Not true!  One’s worth comes from God, plain and simple. There is nothing we can do to earn our worth. It is given to us by God and can never be taken from us. It is an inherent characteristic of our humanity.

So why do we fall into the trap of perfectionism?

1–Parental Response.
Parents often unwittingly open the door to the spirit of perfectionism by showing pleasure when a child performs well and displeasure when he does not. For example, a parent may look at a child’s report card and focus on the only C instead of the four A’s. This sends the message to the child that he is loved only when he performs well. As the child internalizes this message, he starts to believe that he is not loved for who he is but for what he does. This is conditional love–love based on the condition that the child perform well.

We were designed by God to thrive only when loved unconditionally–without the need to perform in order to be loved.  Our hearts want to be loved simply because we are, not because we do. Being, not doing, is the essence of God’s love for us.

2–Peer Pressure. We all want to be accepted by others. Acceptance is a vital part of good human relationships. But the degree to which we desire the acceptance of our peers varies. The problem arises when we look to our peers for the acceptance that should only come from God. When we derive our self-worth from the acceptance of our peers, we fall into the trap of perfectionism.

3–Personal Perception. Too often, we fall into the trap of perfectionism because of the wrong way we see ourselves. We may compare ourselves to others–a practice condemned by Scripture–or we may reject ourselves because we are not the perfect creatures we think we should be. Such an attitude breeds self-hatred and self-condemnation which, in turn can lead to physical illness.

So, what can we do to overcome perfectionism and to accept ourselves just as we are–imperfect human beings trying to make the best of life? Here are a few truths I’ve discovered over the years of dealing with my own perfectionism and of coaching countless people struggling with perfectionism:

1–Recognize that perfectionism is a form of self-hatred and self-rejection. I was stunned to discover this truth because I never thought I hated myself or rejected myself.  But the truth is that perfectionism is our attempt to accept ourselves because of what we do rather than who we are in God’s eyes. When we fall short in our performance, we get angry with ourselves and, eventually, we will grow to hate ourselves or reject ourselves because of our imperfection.

2–Recognize that perfectionism indicates we are still trying to earn God’s love. Since perfectionism is often related to a parent’s acceptance or rejection of us based on our performance, we think that God also accepts or rejects us based on our performance. This is legalism, not grace. We do not earn God’s love by performing well. We do not nor cannot earn God’s love at all. He simply gives it to us because He is God and He is Love.

3- Recognize that perfectionism is a form of idolatry. It places our focus on our performance and not on God’s grace. In short, perfectionism puts what we do above what God did for us. Idolatry is sin.

4- Recognize that perfectionism is different from excellence. Excellence simply means doing our best. Excellence allows for failure as we work toward our goals. When we are striving for excellence, we still accept ourselves when we fail. In all that we do, we should strive for excellence, not perfection.

If you are struggling with perfectionism, let me encourage you. Jesus will set you free. As you yield your perfectionism to Him, He will drive it far from your life.

You also have a part to play. That part is to resist the evil spirit of perfectionism whenever it tempts you. Now, whenever I am tempted to straighten the crooked pictures on my wall, I resist the temptation and, smiling, I let them stay crooked and walk away. 🙂

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN: Do you struggle with perfectionism? If so, what have you done to get it under control so you can accept yourself?

TWEETABLE:  “Perfectionism is not the same as excellence.” – Dr. MaryAnn Diorio, “How to Accept Yourself Just the Way You Are” (CLICK TO TWEET)

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Are You Ashamed?

Dealing with the Effects of Shame

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines

the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
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The young woman cowered in the corner of the couch, clutching a frayed tissue. She’d just revealed a childhood situation of sexual abuse that had triggered an outburst of sobs that wracked her trembling body. Clearly, the pain of her past still lingered and was more entrenched than she had imagined.

Shame. It is the heavy and hidden burden that many carry. 

The word "SHAME" written in vintage metal letterpress type in a wooden drawer with dividers.

Shame is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute.”  Shame usually comes as a sense of guilt for having done something wrong. But often the wrong was done by someone else, and the person bearing the shame is the victim of the wrong.

Shame gives signals. Among them are the following:

—Perfectionism. The person carrying shame thinks that by being perfect, she will validate her worth.

Inferiority. The person carrying shame thinks he is unworthy and inferior to others.

Hunger for Approval. The person carrying shame craves the approval of others to give him worth.

False Guilt. The person carrying shame often blames herself for what was done to her.

Shame differs from guilt in that shame relates to the self whereas guilt relates to others. For example, we feel guilt when we have been unkind to someone, but we feel shame when we worry about how we appear to others for having been unkind. Guilt says, “What I did was bad.” Shame says, “I am bad for having done that.” Guilt can separate the action from the doer of the action. Shame cannot.

Shame is often accompanied by feelings of unworthiness or inferiority. Shame is one of Satan’s chief tools for keeping us from a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

So, how do we get rid of shame? We go to Christ our Healer. Listen to what He promises you regarding your shame: “Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor” (Isaiah 61: 7).  What glorious news! In exchange for shame, our gracious Lord will give us a double share of honor!

Are you carrying around shame in your soul? If so, go to Jesus and give it to Him. He wants to remove your shame once and for all and give you honor in its place. Listen to another one of His promises to you: “He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair” (Isaiah 61: 3).

It doesn’t get any better than that! 

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“Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor” (Isaiah 61: 7). CLICK TO TWEET

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Copyright 2016 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be published or printed in any form whatsoever without the written permission of Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. You may contact her at drmaryann@maryanndiorio.com to request permission.

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Dr. Diorio is a wildly published, award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction. She is a Certified Life Coach, a Certified Biblical Counselor, and a Certified Behavioral Consultant. She is also an award-winning, widely published author of fiction for children and adults. You may reach her at maryann@maryanndiorio.com or via one of her social media venues below:

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