Perfectionists tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves. They have the pressure of doing everything perfectly. If they learn to cope with that particular pressure, they then face another one: the pressure of accomplishing goals and projects with unrealistic time frames. If they fail on either front, they’re likely to tailspin. They lose whatever confidence they have. They berate themselves. They forget that they’re human. They forget that they’re not called to a standard of perfection but to a standard of grace.
Perfectionism can be a brutal thing. Discouragement can be equally so. When combined together, they don’t cancel each other out; they embolden and strengthen each other. The discouragement that could be overcome at any other time is magnified by the perfectionism and vice versa. Discouragement and perfectionism are a volatile and vicious cocktail.
I know the importance of being still, but I’m no good at it. I try to be, but it’s a struggle. I’m followed by various tracks of questions put on repeat: “What do I do next? What should I be doing? Am I doing the right thing? How do I know if I’m doing the right thing? If I’m not doing the right thing, what should I be doing? What should I be pursuing? What about that person? Did I offend that person? Why is he or she being quiet? What should I do?” The questions aren’t easy ones to answer – they often are impossible to answer – yet the perfectionistic, impatient person I am wants answers right now. The more I think about how I don’t have the answers, the more frustrated and worried I become. I turn into the polar opposite of stillness. I’m on edge, jittery, cranky.