Okay… let’s start this ex relationship series…
This first ex, was the longest back and forth divorce process ever, I first had to realise the gravity of the relationship, which took a while, then admit I needed help, then sort help, then struggled some more, then started the divorce process. I think its over now, well we’re broken up now anyways.
Have you ever been friends, partners with, or had someone in your life that looked down on everything you did, there was nothing like small wins, it had to be big or nothing. At the start they seemed all sweet and nice, acted like they cared about you winning, succeeding, and being a better you, but as time went on, things became more illuminated. Yes, they did care about you winning, succeeding and achieving things, but they didn’t care if it was at the expense of YOU, your mental health or well-being? Okay i’ll stop talking in parables, this ex- isn’t a person, it would’ve been a lot more obvious if it was a person, but this ex-, is a concept.
This ex- is something called Perfectionism! Ngl, I was married to perfectionism.
Perfectionism according to psychology, and our best friend google, is the strive within a person for flawlessness and perfection, which is accompanied by critical self- evaluation and concerns about others evaluations. Perfectionism comes with a mental pressure of reaching goals that most times are unrealistic, keeping an individual in a cycle of disappointment.
Although aiming for perfection isn’t automatically negative, as it can help as a drive and fuel, but when it becomes obsessive and mal-adaptive, it becomes a very big issue. This is because such individual will always be dissatisfied, comparing and struggling with their self. Perfectionism has levels, just like everything else, too much is just a whole lot and can become overwhelming, draining, and dis-empowering; mentally, physically and emotionally. Even the bible advises that too much of anything is bad, and encourages we live a life of moderation. SO technically, this friend was a person, a living breathing person, that looked exactly like you and stared you down a mirror, it was YOU and your mindset.
Take loosing weight for instance, we can set realistic goals and put in energy to achieve them, reward ourselves along the way and be kind to ourselves if we get these goals or not, as long as we don’t give up. Or we can aim for a ‘perfectionist’ weight, set excessive and ridiculous goals, exhaust our energy, be critical and harsh to ourselves, and begin to indulge in unhealthy practices, and outrageous eating habits, which could lead to lowered self-esteem, depression, eating disorders, self harming; the list could actually continue.
In regards to weight and body size especially, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS PERFECT! I don’t care what anybody says, what the media or society says, as the proposed “perfect” image from the media, literally changes every single day. So why would we place our mental peace and self-love on something so temperamental and fickle. Just LOVE YOURSELF, and DO WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU AND YOUR MENTAL HEALTH! I’m not saying this from a high pedestal, or like something I am above, but I say this as someone that went through the toxic chains of perfectionism, came out a bit bruised, and is healing progressively.
Previously, I would get so dissatisfied with my skin, and in case y’all didn’t notice, we have skin all over our body. This meant I was pretty much dissatisfied with this 5’5, cheeky and weird human being writing (saying) this. I think the biggest lie I believed was that I could only be happy with my skin, and love my self and my life if I got rid of all the excess melanin I got blessed with. SIGH… It was a lot worse when I had my actual skin condition, as I was so stuck on this image of what a perfect skin ‘should’ or ‘has to’ look like and in my mind I was not even on the same planet as whatever that was suppose to be. I previously hated every single second of this period and I wanted out, whatever way possible. Apart from being in pain, itching and inflamed I hated the look more than the feeling it caused. I never knew I had a perfectionist mindset of my skin, until everything I placed so much pride in, literally came crashing down, and I was trying to pick up the pieces by myself whilst depressed, anxious and suicidal.
Yes, I loved having clear light skin, I placed so much pride in it that when summer 2017 came, the summer that would change my life forever, and my previously completely clear light skin up and left, it felt like my life would just end, and I had nothing else. For someone else, it might not be your skin, it might be something big or small, that had, or has being idolized and given the badge of perfection. It could be the attention you get from the opposite sex, or the attention you think you should be getting, and you have made this so important and would move the world to get it. It could be money or that thing you want to buy so bad that you would consider doing something illegal, because you have made yourself believe you need what ever that is, to look ‘perfect’.
When it comes to how we see and handle ourselves, Love, Love, Love and LOVE YOURSELF some more, even when things around you are screaming that you do the opposite. No matter what, come rain come shine, Love is a beautiful antidote to the toxic relationship with perfectionism. Real love covers all.
1 Cor 13:8a Love ( God's love in us) never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end].
Mark 12:31 The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."
If you don’t want to take my words on loving yourself, listen to Jesus, its part of the second commandment. We actually need to know how to, and love ourselves to be able to fulfill the commandment.
1 Cor 16:14 Let love and kindness be the motivation behind all that you do.
I’ve said this before, if wanting to be better or different isn’t coming from a place of LOVE, you are pretty much doing yourself a disservice. As soon as you have changed one thing, you’ll want to change another, tweak something else, we always sometimes want what others have. By the time you are done tweaking, changing, re-packaging and just manipulating, you would be somebody completely different to whom God has called you to be, and you would just have internal conflicts and self-discrepancies. SIGH! But that isn’t the worst case scenario actually, the worst case is God looking on earth and not being able to recognise the YOU he placed within. You had gone ahead and manipulated, changed and disregarded every unique quality that God has placed in you, and why? Because of a false image of perfection everywhere. I’m actually aware that it is everywhere, and I can appreciate how difficult it can be. Lord help us!
Look at it this way, let us say God created you, as the potter that He is, to be the only cereal bowl in your area or community with sunflower designs, in the midst of plates and cups. Then one day you looked around, with the eyes that He has blessed you with and you said within your heart, ‘why am I flawed, round and not flat like a plate?’, ‘why do I have sunflower designs when every thing I can see on the media is plates with rose designs that just look “pretty n perfect”?’. So you decide again within your heart, to do pottery 2.0 to become a plate with rose designs. Now God wants to have some crunchy nuts, but YOU, HIS BEAUTIFULLY MADE CEREAL BOWL WITH SUNFLOWER DESIGNS IS NO WHERE TO BE FOUND. You get the picture right?
Honestly, NOBODY and EVERYBODY is perfect. We aren’t perfect because we are humans, we could never be rid of all the flaws and weakness we have in the human body, but we are perfect for exactly what God has created us for, and God does not need us to be a perfect human to fit into His will perfectly. Thank God for that! It takes a whole mindset change to stop obsessively aiming for some idea of perfection, but it is not as hard as it sounds, but it isn’t also easy. Thank God for His strength! The best way to look at it is that the process of change, could be gradual, fast, slow, whatever works best for you, but change is continuous; it is progressive. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, but don’t also not put any pressure. A healthy amount keeps you motivated and aiming for excellence.
Some question to always ask yourself:
1) Where is this image of perfectionism coming from, where did I get this idea of a perfect anything from; ‘perfect’ skin, ‘perfect’ weight, ‘perfect’ mannerisms? We could literally have a ‘perfect’ image of anything.
2) What makes this image ‘perfect’? Why do I, or have I believed that THIS is ‘perfect’?
3) Does me believing this is perfect help me grow in anyway? Or is it making me worse, either mentally, physically, emotionally and or spiritually?
4) If I stopped obsessing over this ‘perfect’ image, would I die, or would I seize to exist? The answer would be an astounding NO!
Just to clarify, you can want to be different in a particular area, you can want to be better, achieve more, and this wouldn’t mean you were being perfectionist. Perfectionism starts when you have erroneously believed that your source of joy and happiness is somehow only in these things, and you begin to go out of your way to get these things even at the expense of yourself, your health and your spiritual journey.
Perfectionism sees everything as flawed, nothing is good enough, just wanting more, more, more… and more.
A good tell-tale sign that you are gradually going through this break up process is that you start to, not only embrace or accept, but LOVE your flaws, and of others around you. To be honest and transparent with y’all, I’m still going through this process, I have good days and some bad days, but I’m past the first step, which is to be aware of this relationship.
Col 3:14 and above all these, put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
1 peter 4:8 above all, constantly echo God's intense love for one another, for love will be a canopy over a multitude of sins.
Oh and this relationship with perfectionism can build up verrryy slowly, that you don’t even take note! So be careful out there… perfectionism is always finding a replacement when it breaks up with somebody!
Hopefully, you are not next!