The Crutch of Perfectionism

Photo by Katie Rea

“When perfectionism is driving us, shame is riding shotgun and fear is that annoying backseat driver!”

— Brené Brown

When life gets tough or interesting, I write in a journal.

I came across a prayer fifteen years ago which solved a current dilemma.

I have years’ worth of journals I have kept and occasionally review when the mood strikes. I pulled out a few of them this week. Mostly pages of my life stories along with inspirational quotes, Bible narratives, Theology notes, even Linguistic theories, and of course reviews and quotes on books I had been reading. I’m always reading new books which inspire me, so quotes from those many books throughout the years make sense. I also have a plethora of prayers.

This prayer was from the year 2008:

“Help me, Lord, not to procrastinate and help me to keep myself organized. I create additional stress in my life with my unwillingness to deal with the situation at hand. I worry instead of fixing the problem. Help me to be proactive to problems rather than stressed and reactive.”  

A couple of years after I wrote it, I reviewed it and added, “DITTO! REMEMBER THIS!”

Another few years passed, and I added the comment, “Learning to be proactive rather than reactive to situations. PROBLEM SOLVE! You can do it.”

Today, I was annoyed and a bit disheartened as I still have this problem. I have a research paper I need to work on to finish my Spiritual Direction certification and I was worrying about the paper versus researching and writing. It needed to be perfect, every word of every sentence displaying my infinite knowledge of the subject.

As a result, I found myself unwilling to work on the project and found ways to procrastinate instead. I played my Pokémon Go game, I mean you have to catch them all, right? Solitaire. A FreeCell card game. Or my research on the web turned into doing a quiz to find out what Disney princess I was. It was Belle, by the way. No real surprise there.

I caught my negative pattern and I had to remind myself to take a more proactive approach, so I printed out my outline and created a structured plan.

Perfectionism is a bad habit to break. Not everything I write must be Pulitzer Prize worthy. It’s a fear which kept me from starting a blog for so long. I’m not a good enough writer. Or even if I was, no one would care what I had to say. What truly matters is I’m practicing my craft and putting myself out there.

Perfectionism is a type of procrastination. I personally must avoid “all or nothing” thinking. If one sentence is badly written, I view my effort as a failure. I am also a worrier and become indecisive. I have heard worry compared to a rocking chair, you’re moving back and forth continually, but going nowhere. Even fifteen years later, the prayer I wrote still resonates with me. I’m still rocking.

On a good note, I find I am much better at recognizing these patterns of behavior and correcting my course. I’m trying to improve in this way.

I’ve developed organizational strategies and I am not as reactive to stress as I used to be. I keep appointments and meetings on my phone calendar along with all the kids’ events. I also keep an oversized family calendar on the wall where we write out activities and discuss them as a family. Practicing open communication has also helped me to prioritize occasions and not overcommit.

I learned to stop and become more curious with my feelings and reactions.

Why am I reacting this way?        What am I afraid of in this project?

What story am I telling myself?  Just how do I solve this problem?

Not striving for perfection, but personal development and growth. We all have counterproductive habits or traits we’d like to improve upon.

Envision your path to improvement.

Acknowledging the concerns is the first step to change. It is easy to become discouraged, but it may very well be a lifelong journey. It’s good to also recognize the process you’ve made along the way. As Dory would say, “Just keep swimming.” Hmmm. I wonder if there is a Disney Quiz related to Dory. Nope, need to refocus. See? Persistence is key.

“Personal growth is not a matter of learning new information but of unlearning old limits.”

— Alan Cohen

More information:

Perfectionism | Psychology Today

4 destructive traits of perfectionism, from Dr. Brené Brown (

Quiz: Which Disney Princess Are You? | Disney News

Splish-Splash, It’s The Finding Dory Quiz! |

In honor of my love for quotes: 100 most inspirational quotes about personal growth (

See also my previous post related to this topic: The Grace of God Among Our Imperfections – In Thought, Word & Deed (

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4 responses to “The Crutch of Perfectionism”

  1. This is spot on for me. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome.
      Hope it was helpful!


  2. This sure hits home! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading!


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