Category Archive: Perfectionism

Mar 21

Ladies, Trying to Control Everything Might Actually be Hurting You

Trying to Control Everything May Actually be Hurting You

Calling all busy moms and wives trying to do it all. Do you find yourself exhausted? Worn out? If your answer is yes, let me say. Stop, sit down, take a deep long slow breath in, hold it, then let it out. Take a few minutes to just be fully present in this moment. I have been where you are and I am hoping to bring you good news!! Get comfortable and take five minutes to yourself, to keep reading.

Back to how tired you are. I have a few more questions. Is your fatigue because of all you have to do OR is it because of a very busy mind. Caring for others comes with worry. Worry leads to control because if we are in control then we don’t have to worry. This brings chaos.

What? That makes no sense. Control keeps things in order, in place and helps me protect my family.

Yes, it appears to be a good thing that seems protective. I know you’re thinking if I’m in charge of what goes on in my life, then I can rest. That’s true if you actually have power over something. But worrying and the mental exhaustion that comes from predicting every possible outcome so you can be prepared, actually creates inner chaos. This is anything but rest.

You see there are certain things in life that you have no power over. I think they fall in 3 broad categories.

Forces of Nature: We have no power over the weather, natural disasters, or laws of the universe.

Emotions: Emotions happen and bypass our prefrontal cortex. They are a felt experience that gives us information like our senses. (For more on emotions, click here).

Other People: This encompasses the largest part of life that is really outside of our control. We have no power to actually change another person or chose what they do (or don’t do). Yes, that even includes your kids and your husbands. You can make requests, have influence, and even rules with consequences…but another person’s actions and choices belong only to them.

Controllers (and we all wear this label at times if we are honest) actually create for themselves inner chaos. Why? Because controllers are focused on where they are powerless. To do this they travel many exhausting mental loops trying to figure out a problem that has no solution that is actually within their power. Chaos results.

The answer? Accept what you can’t control and embrace what you can. You see focusing too much on the things we can’t control drains us of our personal power to act. When we focus on we have power we can harness that power into action. So what can you control? Oh, so much.

Your response, actions, reactions, choices, decisions, thoughts, beliefs, values, boundaries, who you chose to be in relationship with, and so much more. Shifting our focus is empowering and freeing.

Focusing too much on the things we can't control drains us of our power to act. Click To Tweet

When we focus on what we can control then we harness that power into action. Click To Tweet

If you are a Christian, accepting what you can control allows you to surrender to the sovereignty of God….the one who really does have power over all. The one who loves your kids and husband more than you do. When we as believers try to control everything, we are stepping into God’s domain, violating God’s boundary. There are certain areas that are only His to control, this is what can truly bring rest.So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”  Matthew 6:31-34

So beloved, rest in what you can control and let go of what you can’t. Only then will you find true peace. It’s not a perfect process, we all will over-control things at times. Recognizing it, giving ourselves grace, and shifting our focus again; we move on. If this is a huge struggle for you? Consider working with a counselor who can help you make this shift.

“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” Dolly Parton

We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. Dolly Parton Click To Tweet

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/control/

Jun 14

Criticism or Compassion?

Which do you prefer…criticism or compassion? Seems like an easy choice right? I mean…who would choose compassion over criticism? Criticism hurts, it arouses our defenses, and brings with it self-doubt and pain. So who would willingly choose criticism over compassion? No one right?

Well, maybe not from other people but many choose criticism over compassion toward ourselves on a regular basis. We each have a critical voice that develops over our lifetime. Some of us have a harsher, stronger critical voice than others. It speaks harsh criticism with words like “you should have” or “why didn’t you” or worse barraging us with words like “loser”, “failure”, “worthless”.

There are many reasons why this inner voice develops. Sometimes it is an internalized voice of a critical important person in our lives, like a parent. Sometimes it is the result of abuse and trauma we experience. Sometimes it develops to keep us achieving at a high level, which we call perfectionism. And, sometimes it develops to keep others in our life happy with us. Mostly, it exists because we are all sinners living in a broken, fallen world with other broken people and as a result we experience shame. The shame emotion says “there is something wrong with you”. Let’s face it, there is something wrong with us….it’s called sin. Shame didn’t exist prior to the fall (Genesis 3). And since then, we have lived under shame’s tyranny.

Now if someone were speaking shaming criticism to us on a regular basis, we would consider it abusive and it would create deep sadness, fear, and pain. If we heard someone speaking to a friend that way, we would rise to his or her defense. Yet, inner criticism gets free reign in our mind and heart. It impacts our emotions and relationships. Instead of questioning it, challenging it, or defending ourselves we try harder to be perfect, please others, or quiet/numb the voice through a variety of addictions.

Inner criticism gets free reign in our mind and heart impacting our emotions. Click To Tweet

Sadly we don’t even recognize it as criticism…it just becomes our inner dialogue. Yet with this strong inner critic come feelings of sadness and anxiety. That is the natural result of living under constant criticism.

So what is the solution? Compassion….self-compassion. We understand nurture and compassion for others but often are mystified on how to give it to ourselves. Learning self-compassion, giving ourselves permission to be human, and embracing our imperfections is the road to peace and freedom.

Learning self-compassion and giving ourselves permission to be human is the road to freedom. Click To Tweet

Beloved Jesus followers, let me share something incredible. God sent Jesus to die for all of our sin and shame. ALL of it was laid on Him on the cross. When we believe in Him…we not only have ALL of our past, present, and future sins paid for but we receive His perfection! That perfection we strive for is already ours. God sees us always and forever as covered by the blood of Christ, perfectly righteous. So embracing your imperfections allows Jesus to be glorified. Embracing this and laying down the slavery of abuse and perfectionism is good news!

God sees us always and forever as covered by the blood of Christ, perfectly righteous. Click To Tweet

“For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” Hebrews 10:14

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Persmission to be Human is Self Compassion

 

For more on this topic check out Dr. Kristin Neff’s Self Compassion Website. Here you will find a great description of self-compassion and exercises to help you grow it. You can also check out a few of my previous blogs on the topic: Embracing Imperfection and Finding Freedom and Be a Friend to Yourself. Need more help, find a good counselor. There is always hope!

 

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/compassion/

Mar 08

Embracing Imperfection and Finding Freedom

perfection masquerades as goodThat’s a strange thought for me. Embracing imperfection. Several years ago, I sat in my counselor’s office and he challenged me with this idea.
Hi, my name is Aimee and I struggle with perfectionism. Anyone who knows me well will laugh at that statement…because it’s painfully true. I’m a first born, high-achiever, minister’s daughter. I grew up with eyes watching me, looking to me (or so I thought). Perfectionism was born and rooted deep in my heart.
Perfectionism masquerades as something good. Who wouldn’t want to strive for excellence or success in all things? Yet, it comes with BIG cost…insecurity, self-doubt, and lots of SHAME.
See perfectionism is impossible…
Let that sink in a minute.

 

Perfectionism masquerades as something good. Click To Tweet
No one is perfect; no one functions at that high level. We all know this deep down. Perfection is a mirage that leaves us in a desert wasteland, dry and thirsty.
Perfection is a mirage that leaves us in a desert wasteland, dry and thirsty. Click To Tweet
How can this be, you ask? How can something presumably good lead us so astray?
Perfectionism brings SHAME. It communicates, “be perfect and you’re okay”. When your humanity kicks inPerfection leaves us dry and you mess up, perfectionism shouts, “something is wrong with you because you aren’t perfect.” Cue the shame and unending self-doubt and self-loathing.
Here’s the light bulb moment….perfectionism and abuse communicate the same message.
Both speak condemning shame and inadequacy. Both shout, “something is wrong with you.” Both abuse and deceive us.
So how do we get free?
By embracing our humanity, weaknesses, flaws, mistakes, warts and all. By sharing our imperfections with those in our life. By living life fully transparent and real. There’s freedom here. Scary, vulnerable, beautiful freedom.

 

By embracing our humanity, weaknesses, flaws, mistakes, warts and all. Click To Tweet
You see perfectionism is often image and identity driven. You want others to see you as a “have it all together” person. You fear failure because you see it as your definition.
But failure doesn’t define you; it’s an experience to learn from. Identity isn’t in what you do or don’t do. Identity is rooted in something deeper; it’s who you are. We are all broken people living in a broken world with other broken people. We are human. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we fail. What’s beautiful about us IS our imperfections. It’s what unites us and sets us free.
What’s beautiful about us IS our imperfections.. Click To Tweet
Owning my many imperfections, has freed me from the tyranny of shame. Click To Tweet
For me, owning my many imperfections, has freed me from the tyranny of shame that used to beat me up mentally when I failed. I think the biggest Aha moment for me in my own journey was this thought: “If I am perfect than I have no need for Jesus.” So beloved, I will revel in my imperfections because Jesus is so much better. I will trade SHAME for GRACE and experience REST and FREEDOM. My mistakes and failures remind me of His perfection in my place. Before God, the perfection I long for is mine, not because of my goodness or excellence but because of Christ’s goodness and excellence.
I will trade SHAME for GRACE and experience REST and FREEDOM. Click To Tweet
My mistakes and failures remind me of His perfection in my place. Click To Tweet

Imperfection Gets Grace

“If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness” 2 Corinthians 11:30

 “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
“Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron….For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son (Jesus) who has been made perfect forever.” Hebrews 7:11, 28
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness (perfection) to everyone who believes” Romans 10:4
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/embracing-imperfection/

Nov 30

Hope for the Holidays

Hope for the Holidays Not Christmas Stress

Let’s all be super honest! The holidays bring stress. Lots of STRESS!! Even good things create stress and just the sheer volume of extra work brings with it a level of stress. Most of us have schedules that have no extra room to accomplish these extra tasks.
* Gift buying  *Decorating *Parties *Wrapping *Travel *Finances
Not to mention, the list of things that surface during the holidays.
*Expectations *Loss *Loneliness *Grief *Depression *Anxiety *Family
Now I love Christmas but what I really love is family time, relaxing, good food, games and peace. I love celebrating the amazing thing God did by sending Jesus. Accomplishing for us, what we could never do on our own. The last thing I want is to get lost in the chaotic must be perfect American Christmas…but we do…it’s easy.
We like pretty things and giving gifts and parties and on and on it goes. If we aren’t careful, we walk through the season and we miss it…or we dread it.
If we aren’t careful, we walk through the season and we miss it…or we dread it. Click To Tweet
Maybe there is hope for the holidays, hope for the stress we are all under. Maybe the solution is to shift our expectations. To expect things to be busy, to expect things to be not perfect, to expect people to be crazy, to expect stores to be busy, to expect kids to argue during advent, and to expect those who’ve experienced grief to be sad.
Preparing for stressful times is a mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual process:
Mentally:
 Look at the situation with realistic expectations.
Remember what you really value and want out of this time.
Physically:
 Take care of yourself: eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep
Take time to sit and take slow deep breathes.
Observe the world around you. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? Take time to live in the moment.
This time of year can be difficult for those who have experienced loss Click To Tweet
Emotional:
Know when you need extra support. This time of year can be difficult for those who have experienced loss or already struggle with anxiety and depression. Have safe people on call for you, join a support group, or just be real with your family and friends. They love you. You don’t have to pretend. If you need professional help, call a good counselor.
Spiritually:
The season is about GRACE! Grace God extends to us through the incredible gift of Jesus.
The season is about GRACE! Grace God extends to us through the incredible gift of Jesus. Click To Tweet
Grace wins. Grace doesn’t expect anything but us to be real and messy. Grace gives. Grace forgives. Grace is undeserved. Christmas is Grace.

 

Hope for the Holidays

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/hope-for-the-holidays/

Oct 13

Embracing Who We Are

This is a crazy metaphor…maybe only women will understand it…but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about embracing who we ARE and not striving for something different.
This came about as I started letting my hair, do what it does…which is a half-hearted wavy, not real curl kind of thing.
For years, I have just straightened my hair (or kept it shorter). It never really did much else…yet all of a sudden my hair has more spunk (or waves) if I let it.

FullSizeRender-3

Sometimes I do, I let it be wild and wavy…some pieces are straight, some curl sweetly and some just frizz or stick out. My inner perfectionist screams that my curls are wild and out of control…yet I let them be and do what they want to be and do.
As I have wrestled with this different type of hair (and let me assure you, the struggle is real…short hair may be in my future), I picture all of us in life. We are wild and wavy. We are unique. Some of us frizz, some curl cutely, some stick out straight, but we each matter, and we each have meaning.
We are wild and wavy. We are unique. Some of us frizz, some curl cutely but we each matter. Click To Tweet
Yet so often we don’t let ourselves just be wild and wavy. We are told to straighten out. Don’t be unique; be like all the other straightened out people…boring, the same, and perfectly smooth.
The thing is…even when I straighten my hair…if it rains or I sweat, the wave returns. There is no perfect conformity and there is no such thing as perfection. It’s an illusion…an unattainable standard. All the striving for perfection brings me is the feeling that I am constantly not enough. I need to do more or try harder.
Yet I am who God created me to be and so are you… wonderfully wild and wavy. I make mistakes and I mess up. Sometimes my waves are pretty and sometimes they are a frizzy mess.
Grace is wild and wavy. It uproots perfection and shouts “It Is Finished”. I’ll settle for wild and wavy because it means I get Jesus…His perfection is better than my horrible attempt to straighten my wild and wavy hair…..
Grace is wild and wavy. It uproots perfection and shouts “It Is Finished”. Click To Tweet

wildlove

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/embracing-who-we-are/

Feb 24

The Comparison Identity Trap

So what is up with girls? Deep down inside, we each long desperately to be known, understood, and loved for who we are (warts and all). We love finding girlfriends who just “get us”, who find us silly and fun. We are drawn to those friends that we have things in common with. As young girls, we delight in our friendships.
Then something happens…..I am not sure when it does but at some point we start comparing ourselves to other girls. In the process we begin to judge ourselves as less than in some area: beauty, fitness, style, intellect, heart, personality, talent, etc. We create an “ideal” self-image that, let’s be honest, is probably super unrealistic. Yet, we judge our self against it day after day. And day after day, we feel less than, unimportant, unworthy (especially when we are super active on social media)!
So what do we do?? We try to be the best at something: the most popular, prettiest, most fashionable, most athletic, most intelligent, most fun, most rebellious, most artistic, etc., etc.
In the process of trying to create for ourselves this awesome “ideal” self-identity, we stomp on friends along the way. We may drop friends because they don’t fit our ideal or we may be so caught up in our goal that we don’t realize we hurt them.
WHAT KIND OF MADNESS IS THIS????
Making yourself better (at anything) does not bring you what your heart deeply longs for! What you really want, more than anything is to be truly known and loved for who you ARE. In your effort to create this ideal self, you are no longer “who you are”.   Whoever loves this “ideal” version of you doesn’t really know the real you! And, deep down you know it! That’s why chasing these things feels empty. Not only that, you often hurt the real friends you had all along.
Where you look for your identity is important. For Christians, our identity is IN CHRIST! We are completely, fully, and finally loved. All the belonging and acceptance that you long for is already yours IN CHRIST. You have it, now, just as you are!
So, pursue the things that God uniquely created you to do (sports, school, arts, beauty, etc) but do it as a reflection of God’s glory through you. Love others with the love that God has poured into you. Forgive other ladies when they fall victim to this comparison/identity trap and hurt you. You understand it’s power and you’ve fallen victim to it yourself.
Seek safe friends that can be REAL (warts and all). Friends who embrace you for your uniqueness and celebrate their own.   Friends who are aware that they mess up and can own it.   Friends that push you to Jesus. Remember we live in a broken world and people are going to hurt us (because we all sin). We can’t change what happens to us but we can decide how we let it impact us and what we do about it. And remember, when you are hurt by another person this does not change your worth or value!!! Run to Jesus when you are hurt and hear Him say “Don’t be afraid.  Don’t give up.  The Lord your God is with you.  He is mighty enough to save you.  He will take great delight in you.  The quietness of his love will calm you down.  He will sing with joy because of you.”  Zephaniah 3:16-17 .  He loves you completely as you are (the current, messed up, non-perfect version of you).
This is an imperfect process since we still live in a broken world.  We will continue to struggle with comparison, identity, and looking to things other than Jesus for our identity.  Sometimes we do great for a while and then catch ourselves looking to something else for meaning.  THERE IS AMAZING GRACE FOR THAT!!  It Is FINISHED!  You are forgiven, move on, fix your eyes anew on Jesus.
Sharing your real struggle with safe people is a great way to start finding real connection. How have you struggled with this?  What are your fears? Where do you tend to place your identity?  What is your deep longing?

If you like what you read, please comment below or share on social media. ❤️

God is most glorified when I am most satisfied in Him

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/the-comparison-identity-trap/

Dec 02

The Not Perfect Christmas

notperfect3

 

I love Christmas.  I love the cooler weather, the warm clothes, warm coffee, and snuggling under blankets with family.  I love buying gifts, wrapping gifts, giving gifts, attending Christmas Eve service, being with family, and watching Christmas movies.  Yet, let’s be honest ladies…Christmas for moms (or women in general) can be STRESSFUL.  As if we don’t already have enough to do, let’s pile on a whole bunch of shopping, baking, cooking, decorating, dinner parties, and traveling.   Ummmm…. if I added any of that to a regular week then I am overwhelmed but add it all in one month??  Come on now…where did my sanity go?
Now, I looove LOOKING at beautiful decorations but honestly, I don’t want to spend that much on decor.  I am not even quite sure what to buy when I do have decorating money.  So, we continue to use the same decorations year after year.  My boys don’t seem to mind and I think it looks decent when I am done.  But,  I always feel that my decorations are a little, let’s say, less than magazine perfect.  I never quite feel like my house has “grown up” decorations (and I’m almost 40).  It used to be (back before Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) that I would only feel bad when I went to someone else’s home that was beautifully decorated.  Now, however, I can feel inadequate just by checking my social media feed.  Not only that, there is so much more to feel bad about…my deficient baking skills, I’m not done with my shopping yet, I didn’t get the best deals during Black Friday, my presents won’t have ribbons or bows, my Christmas cards aren’t done, I have no regular daily Christmas activity planned for the kids, and no elf comes to visit in cleverly cute ways.
It is honestly comical how we put so much pressure on ourselves during this time of year.  I mean what is the point?  Who are we pleasing?  What are we celebrating???  Comparison is evil!  Perfection is unrealistic and unattainable.  Life happens in the mess.  Mistakes forge memories that bond us together in our humanity.  When we share only our achievements and not our mistakes, we don’t connect.  We miss each other.  We feel alone.  
Not only that, if we were perfect…we wouldn’t need Jesus.  Isn’t that the whole point of this time of year anyway?  Because of our imperfection and brokenness, Jesus was born to be the perfection we constantly strive for.  In Jesus, I am completely perfect!  So I am free to embrace my human imperfections (of which there are so many…ask my kids and husband).  So this Christmas, I am going to enjoy each moment, the great ones and the bad ones.  The great ones are a glimpse of eternity when all is made new and the bad ones are a reminder of my need for Jesus!
So celebrate the season and do what you want to do.  No comparing!  Your version of Christmas for your family is just right!
Let’s share our imperfections together this Christmas and have a Not Perfect Christmas.  Let’s really connect and be real on social media.  Let’s proclaim our imperfections loud so Jesus’ perfection is magnified!
Find me @counseling4hope #notperfect!
Here’s my first imperfect social media post:
We made an awesome Christmas budget spreadsheet that we password protected because my kids use this computer.  Ummm…yep, we forgot the password.  #notperfect #Christmas
 If you like what you read, please comment below or share on social media. ❤️

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/not-perfect-christmas/

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