Gripped by Perfectionism

Teresa, 5m4m contributor shares her insights on perfectionism and how it can become a major stronghold in your life. The book, Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist is the perfect tool you need to finally break free from that lie. We were compensated to write this post and sent a copy of the book to review, however all opinions remain our own.

Per·fec·tion·ism, noun. “A fault, often disguised as a good quality, that ends up leaving the bearer disappointed with oneself for not having acted ‘perfectly’ in a given situation.”

I realized at a young age that I might have a bit of a problem with things being ‘just so’.  When I was a teenager, my bedroom was perfect. Literally, I woke up and promptly made my bed, perfectly. I walked into my closet where all my clothes and shoes were lined up and organized, perfectly. My makeup and polishes and toiletries were lined up perfectly on my dressing table (and oh how my little brothers loved to come into my room and knock those bottles of nail polish over).

I recall when I actually moved into my first apartment with a roommate and I overheard her on the telephone telling her friend she was living with a freak. I thought, “Who me? I’m not the freak, she’s the freak!”.

Who could possibly ever be this messy and be okay with it? Who could possibly not have a clue where their things were, what bill needed to be paid next or not know that they needed to buy milk? I was horrified that she thought I had issues when I thought she was completely mad for her ‘fly by the seat of her pants’ attitude.

Naturally, after that debacle I never had another roommate again. I was free to be an enormous perfectionist, clean my floors with toothbrushes and load my dishes in the dishwasher correctly. I was able to control every situation and make everything around me beautiful and perfect. If something went the least bit awry, I would be hugely embarrassed and upset for days on end that I was not able to make this one particular situation perfect.

I would stress over the smallest, inconsequential details that someone else would not even think of. I had to be the perfect sister, perfect friend, perfect employee, perfect co-worker, perfect gift-giver, who had a perfect condo, ate perfectly cooked meals and threw perfect parties – really the list just goes on and on; and it really controlled me.

Trying to break free from perfectionism

Enter present day life and my inability to control every situation because, well, I have three children and frankly, children can not be controlled like little robots. Therefore, I have to pick the situations that I can completely control now in order to remain sane inside my head.

Perfecting is an exhausting pursuit and it takes up a lot of my time. Take for instance, doing the dishes. You do realize there is a completely perfect manner in which dishes are to be washed and loaded into a dishwasher? I will not allow my husband to even come near the sink because he just does it all wrong. I can’t tell you how many ‘discussions’ we have had over my need to have this task completed perfectly.

Sometimes, the clashing on this nonsense does suck the air out of my brain. I know I have an incessant need for setting standards for myself. I create unrealistic and impossible expectations and then feel like an enormous failure when I fall flat on my face.

I have yet to realize I can not attain perfection. However, I think my children have shown me that I can no longer be ruled by perfectionism. I’ve been ousted for not being perfect. Nevertheless, I’m still sticking with my perfect process of doing dishes!

Any other perfectionists out there? What do you do when the air gets sucked out of you? How are you learning to feel good about your {im}perfect self?

How You Can Break Free

Amanda is a raging perfectionist. She begins each day with a long list. “Keep the house picked up; limit myself to two Diet Cokes; spend special time with each of the kids; work out; pray; avoid sugar; read a chapter in a book about something very important; read my Bible; call my mom.” She determines each day’s worth, and ultimately her own, by keeping track of her stats—pounds gained or lost, stuff accomplished.

That is, until God spoke into her life, waking her up to the true costs of her addiction to perfection. Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist is more than Amanda’s confession; it’s a journey of letting go of the subtle but destructive idols of her overactive inner voice and replacing them with God’s truth. Amanda hopes her journey can inspire others to let God dig in to their own lives, uncovering the subtle lies we unconsciously live by.

Click here to purchase a copy of this book and start learning to live a life free of perfectionism.

Teresa is a family lifestyle photographer who is happy homeschooling her three children in the Christian classical education theory in the suburbs of Chicago. You can find her on her blog Tiaras & Tantrums or on Twitter as @tiarastantrums.


  1. says

    It wouldn’t be a bad idea if I could get mushed up with Amanda. This way I could get a bit of her perfectionism and she could chill out a bit more

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