(I wrote this piece for the November 2022 newsletter of the California Association of American Mothers, Inc.: https://www.americanmothers.org/)
I am a recovering perfectionist. For whatever reason, I entered motherhood with the deeply engrained mental habit of criticizing myself almost constantly. By the grace of God and with the help of mental health professionals, spiritual leaders, family, and friends, I have come a long way towards healing, but perfectionism can still sneak up on me, especially when I am stressed or tired. For the next few holiday months, I would like to share some of the most helpful anti-perfectionism strategies that I have learned in case there are any other recovering perfectionists out there. The pressure of the holidays can turn anyone into a temporary perfectionist!
One manifestation of perfectionism is comparing ourselves and our families to others and always coming up short. One way to counter this unhealthy tendency is to remind ourselves that we don’t really know everything that may be going on with someone else. They probably have struggles and problem that we have no idea about. Chances are that we have created an imbalanced and unrealistic image of someone else that we are comparing ourselves to.
An even more powerful way to combat unhealthy comparisons is to give thanks for what we have, as we do as a nation every November. We can make a year-round habit of noticing all of our blessings, big and small, and being thankful for them. Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” can go a long way towards fighting perfectionism.
May God bless you and your families this Thanksgiving and always!