Perfectionism and Pain

I’m having a painful time mentally. If that sounds strange, then you may not be an INFJ/P. Considering there are 12 Myers-Briggs personality types, then you very well may not be an INFJ or INFP.

I am not particularly proud of my personality type or the struggles that come with it. But the time has come in my life when I need to figure out how to deal with it. Perfectionism is one thing that my husband just identified as a main source of my mental anguish, this painful anxiety. I have no problem viewing life as a constant series of choices. My fear is of choosing the wrong thing, even once, however tiny the choice, and suffering a lifetime of hellish consequences. Once I’ve made a choice, my mind immediately and (it seems) automatically speeds down a path of worst-case-scenario consequences and desperately searches for potential sources of redemption. See, convinced that even the smallest choices can have ruinous consequences, this fear called perfectionism paralyzes in such a painful way. It actually robs me of the life that it promises in its neurotic prison of a mindset. It drains the life and liberty from my days.

But I don’t know how to stop it. I have tried. I’ve struggled for years, hitting a wall every time I’ve started truly enjoying something for what it is. Fear sets in and quickly grows roots, like a hardy plant in fertile soil.

I wish I could write sunshine-happy, encouragingly sweet posts about motherhood. I love my son. I am grateful for my life. I’m not depressed. I’m just venting here. So much of the internet is where we display the best things in our lives. Pinterest, blogs, etc. seem to be the places to show off your beautiful kitchen counters, artistically plated homemade cuisine, seasonal crafts that your toddler sat contentedly still while making.

But I’m letting myself vent some of the uglier things here. Those encouraging “Dear Tired Mama” type-posts only hint at the pain, exhaustion, confusion and despair that some of us regularly deal with as mothers (and just as people). They make shoulder-squeeze references with an implied wink and that stock image of a coffee cup. I’m going to go ahead and get into it, knee-deep. Not because I revel in it. Not at all. I don’t think anyone should, either. Embrace the ugliness? Uh, no. I just want to get through it in one piece. We all want healthy, happy lives and families, don’t we? I am looking for the fine line between that good desire and the subtle hell that we call perfectionism.

So, if you’re reading this, will you pray with me?

God, I want to acknowledge right away that Your grace is sufficient for me. It says so in the Bible, so I trust that it’s true. Help my unbelief, though. If I actually lived like I believed that to be true, then I would not be haunted by this terrorist called perfectionism. Of course, people need to give each other grace, as well as giving it to ourselves. But as so many have preached from the pulpit, we can’t give what we don’t have. Help me to actually receive your Grace that is so freely given every day, your mercies anew each morning. Help me to take as much as I need, and extra to give away. Thank You for your abundance. Amen.

Perfectionism and Pain

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