March 11, 2010

The Curse of Perfectionism

Perfectionism (n.) A propensity for being displeased with anything that is not perfect or does not meet extremely high standards.

A while back I figured out that I am a perfectionist and I wrote about it on my other blog. If you want to read about my poor housekeeping skills, then click on over. Basically I say that the reason I put off cleaning is because I fear I can never get my house to a perfect state and keep it that way so I choose to not even try.

It would take a LONG time to get the house in perfect condition and it would require daily maintenance to keep it looking great. There is no quick fix for a house that is as messy as mine. It does not merely need a little dusting. It needs an overhaul. And what if I put in all the effort to overhaul it and then it gets messy again? Ahh! The thought drives me insane.

Today I realized for the first time that this same irrational thinking comes into play where my weight is concerned. For years I have let the number on the scale climb. With each pound gained, I have drifted farther away from the hope that I could have a perfect body. To be able to obtain that would take a LONG time and it would require daily maintenance. There is no quick fix for a body as out of control as mine. It does not merely need to shed some pounds. It needs to be overhauled. To be totally re-programed in the area of diet, exercise and behavior.

But what if I go to all the trouble to overhaul and then it doesn't last? What if my body is never the perfect vision I have in my head? These thoughts are what have always kept me from succeeding. But praise the Lord, I think I might have had a breakthrough...

My mom and I were discussing my dirty house problem the other day. She told me that I am going to have to focus on keeping it clean but perhaps not always "picked up" with everything decorated just so. The important thing is that it is a healthy environment for my kids and the husband's and my sanity. I am going to have to make a daily choice to maintain the cleanliness of my house but not necessarily the aesthetic.

Same thing with my body. I am going to have to focus on keeping the food that I put into my body useful for energy and health. I am going to have to accept that the physical results I want to see will not appear overnight...they may never, completely. I am going to have to realize that even if I never looked any different than I do right now and the scale never moved again it is still important...imperative to take care of this temple that is my body. That has got to be the ultimate goal or this is never going to work.

I am just curious how many overweight people out there are also perfectionists. I really think there is a connection for some people. Do you think that perfectionism plays a role in your weight struggle?
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12 comments:

Julie, The Accidental Fat Chick said...

I don't know if I'd call myself a perfectionist... but I definitely have high standards & set the bar very high. I expect a lot of myself... sometimes too much maybe. Is that part of being a perfectionist?

Necel said...

Just popped in to say howdy from Texas Blogging Gals. It's awesome that you're documenting this journey. You go, girl!

Blessings,
Necel from the Old House in Texas

Stacey at Living by Faith said...

For me there has been a connection between perfectionism and my weight/body image issues. It all goes back to my all or nothing personality. If I can't do it perfectly well then I might as well eat anything and everything. I have written A LOT about my struggle with perfection and my journey to overcome it on my blog. A book that has been instrumental for me is I Thought It Was Just Me by Brene Brown. A life changer!!

Rosa said...

perfect house with kids is not possible unless you have a live in maid, like Alice from the Brady Bunch. I look at wonderful shelter magazines and blogs and swoon over the stylized pictures. It takes a village to of assistants, stylists, and photographers to make those photos look like that.

Flylady is a great resource for me to keep things tidy, but never perfect. I wish you the best.

{Absolutely, Positively} Josie said...

i am a TOTAL perfectionist, and i have followed the same line of thinking as you have (in everything, even housekeeping and especially dieting) for many, many years.
in fact, if i'm dieting and i want to get myself down and in a rut (and for an excuse to binge), i just look at or think of the things about my body that may "never" or just cannot be changed.

i have come a long way, but i am still not the glass-half-full person i want and need to be!

good luck!

Buzzy & Breezelys Mama said...

I could have written this post myself we are so on the same wave length. In both cleaning and weight issues. I always hated cleaning because I couldn't just do a 'light' clean. I had to do a spring clean and it freaked me out (especially after kids) that when I was done they would mess it up and God forbid my husband mess something up WHILE I was cleaning. I'd have a meltdown. I believe the same mentality goes toward how I used to look at my weight. Thank God I was able to overcome that. I have been eating well for 70 days now and it's all but second nature to eat well. Exercise is still another subject completely. LOL Thanks for bringing this topic to light. It definitely hit straight home with me. :)

Kristin Hope said...

I am definitely a perfectionist, but I've never connected it to my weight other than when I try hard, I often feel like I'm not trying hard enough. I've had these feelings recently and have posted them here and there on my blog. What you're saying makes total sense - you are very right. When it comes to home or body, you shouldn't just give up because you can't get it perfect. I know I have done this in both respects. I'm trying to let God work on me with the whole "I'm not doing enough" attitude - it's truly hard to let go and realize that my best is just that - my best, and that's all He requires. Thanks for the encouragement! :)

Denise said...

I am 100% with you, both on house (which is beyond filthy here as well) and body. When my husband was deployed overseas for two years, my house was neat as a pin. Every Saturday morning I'd wake up, spend 5 hours cleaning and tidying, and then I'd happily go off to whatever activity I had planned. It would stay as close to perfect as I could make it between cleanings, even down to the perfect placement of the magazines on my coffee table. Then my husband came home with his clutter and lack of care about clutter. And we got a puppy. And the house became a pigsty. And I sort of just gave up.

For my body, I want to eat perfectly, exercise perfectly, and deal with stress perfectly. If I can't be perfect in every way then why bother at all, right? And that has gotten me morbidly obese and diabetic. Not a winning formula. I need to think about the fact that doing ANYTHING positive for my poor, abused, neglected body is better than nothing and that good habits build upon one another and not always in tandem.

Basically what I'm saying is, when you find the solution to perfectionism, please pass it on. :-)

Denise said...

I am 100% with you, both on house (which is beyond filthy here as well) and body. When my husband was deployed overseas for two years, my house was neat as a pin. Every Saturday morning I'd wake up, spend 5 hours cleaning and tidying, and then I'd happily go off to whatever activity I had planned. It would stay as close to perfect as I could make it between cleanings, even down to the perfect placement of the magazines on my coffee table. Then my husband came home with his clutter and lack of care about clutter. And we got a puppy. And the house became a pigsty. And I sort of just gave up.

For my body, I want to eat perfectly, exercise perfectly, and deal with stress perfectly. If I can't be perfect in every way then why bother at all, right? And that has gotten me morbidly obese and diabetic. Not a winning formula. I need to think about the fact that doing ANYTHING positive for my poor, abused, neglected body is better than nothing and that good habits build upon one another and not always in tandem.

Basically what I'm saying is, when you find the solution to perfectionism, please pass it on. :-)

Can do mom said...

Sign me up for Perfectionists Anonymous too. I like things just so. I would like to lose ten pounds but most people would not say that I have a weight issue. (I have plenty of other issues though, heh heh...)

I'm the opposite with my house. Most people think I keep my home immaculately clean all the time. That's not true, but I DO keep it picked up. I hate clutter. I hate how it looks when it's trashed and I try to tackle a different problem area a couple times a week.

There are certain areas that are going to attract clutter and messes. Like our locker area. That's the area by our back door where we come in from the garage. It frequently looks like a tornado hit there. I try to go through the house and assign the messy areas to one of my children to clean up. They are 10, 14 and almost 17 years old however, so they are definitely old enough to clean up after themselves!

One thing that has helped me was some invaluable advice I was given by my sister back when I was going through chemo after an ovarian cancer diagnosis. Back then my youngest was just weeks old and the girls were 4 and 6 and the house looked horrible. I was recovering from childbirth and an unplanned hysterectomy and the effects of chemo. I had ZERO energy - ugh - it was a rough time. I hated how messy the house was. Every time I looked at it I would get overwhelmed because I couldn't do anything about it. My wonderful older sister who had survived three different cancer bouts told me to focus on my bedroom. She advised me to make it into a clean, peaceful sanctuary. I did just what she told me and turned a blind eye to the mess outside my room. I'm telling you it saved my sanity! God graciously healed me (hurrah!) and now I praise Him for giving me the opportunity to be a wife, mother, sister, daughter and friend and it helps to keep the rest of life in perspective. Sorry to ramble on for so long but in a nutshell I'd ask you if you could turn ONE room into a sanctuary, a place where you have peace. Then move on to another area, and another. Remember with young children some areas will be continually messy. The other advice would be to declutter. Read one of Don Aslett's decluttering books. It will motivate you to get rid of things you don't really need.

Sorry this is so long! Blessings to you, Keelie, on your journey!

Your Friend,
Jodie

Minnesota Mami said...

It's so interesting that you wrote this post Keelie, because up until this last year, I never considered myself a perfectionist. In fact, I tended to even shy away of taking on big projects that I couldn't complete or complete to the degree I wanted to. So, like you, my house tends to be on the messier side. When I was working I'd get uber stressed out with all that was on my plate that I couldn't complete to the degree I wanted to because my work time was in such high demand. I've been overweight since high school.
Then I realized, as you did, that perhaps the reason I shyed away from these projects was because I felt like there was NO WAY I could get them completed to the degree that I felt they should be completed. So why even try and run the risk of failing miserably?
Lightbulb Moment: Maybe I AM a perfectionist after all!!
So I'm trying to let go of those perfectionistic tendencies and instead saying "Do what I can do", little by little". And that works!

Romantic Comedee said...

Oh wow this is totally it. I think this is the reason I have struggled with my weight, cuz I've though I couldn't do it WELL ENOUGH to meet my standards. Its also why my rooms is a mess, because I doubt my ability to organize it well enough. No is time to start doubting and enjoying the steps. THANK YOU.