I am a perfectionist. As such, I perpetually struggle with extending grace both to myself and to others. This frequently shows up as a harsh voice of an inner critic, which can then lead to defensiveness, passive-aggressive behavior and not loving others well or meeting them where they are.
I really, really want to change – more and more as I see it poisoning relationships that are precious to me – but I feel so powerless to do so. If you’re willing, please pray that God would work in me to heal this broken part of me. And I would love to hear your own requests for prayer. “I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” -Philippians 1:6
The Enneagram Institute sends out daily emails with thoughts to encourage your particular Ennagram Type (fellow perfectionists, we’re Type One), and these are some quotes I have compiled that I hope to ponder more in the coming weeks.
EXTEND GRACE TO SELF
- Become acquainted with your superego—your inner judge. Learn to distinguish it from your self, to recognize its “voice” and its effects on you.
- Your lost childhood message was “You are good.” Give yourself this message today.
- Remember that at your best, you become extraordinarily wise and humane, with superb discernment.
- How is your superego message: “You are good or okay if you are good and do what is right” affecting you today?
- Remember it is not beating yourself up that produces change, but self-knowledge and awareness. Today it’s enough to see your self-judgments more clearly.
- How do you use critical perfectionism to avoid your own fear of being bad or defective?
- Today, notice if you are being too sensitive to criticism. It would not be surprising, given your constant self-criticism that any further negative feedback from others can be extremely threatening. Can you handle criticism more graciously?
- Average Ones are locked in conflicts between opposing forces that cannot be reconciled. They keenly feel the struggle between good and evil, the flesh and the spirit, the ideal and the real. Ponder this insight today.
- Contemplate this truth today: Work on ourselves proceeds layer by layer, from the most external forms of personality to the inner core of our Being.
- What would it be like if you dropped all criticism of yourself and others today? How would it feel to accept imperfection?
Relax and Be Present.
- As a dutiful type, you tend to be too harsh with yourself. Remember to nurture yourself with something like massage, nourishing food, and daily surprises.
- Learn to relax. Take time for yourself without feeling everything is up to you and that if you do not do it, chaos and disaster will result.
- Be aware of your tendency to push yourself beyond your limits of endurance. You cannot remain effective if you fail to take breaks or refresh yourself.
- How is the feeling of being frustrated and dissatisfied preventing you from being present in the here and now today?
- Today, see if you can be aware of your “excuse” for not being Present. “When I have achieved perfection, then I’ll show up.”
- Remember the virtue of your type is Serenity. When you are awake and present, you accept reality exactly as it is.
- Try this Affirmation today: “I now affirm that I can allow myself to relax and enjoy life.”
EXTEND GRACE TO OTHERS
Would you rather be Right or be in Relationship?
- Remember that Ones have learned that to be loved they must be good, and to be good they must be right. This belief manifests as a continual need to point out errors or a better way of doing things. Watch for this tendency in yourself today.
- Embrace these healing attitudes today. “Maybe others are right. Maybe someone else has a better idea.”
- A major feature of your personality is to become convinced that you know the way everything ought to be. Notice this tendency in yourself today.
- It is easy for you to become annoyed about the wrongdoings of others. And it may sometimes be true that they are wrong. But will your interference actually help or hurt the situation?
Meet Others Where They Are.
- Today, notice your tendency to use your personal moral yardstick to improve others. Ask yourself if this is a means to real growth.
- Ask yourself “Where is a challenge of real love for you?” Does it have to do with accepting others exactly as they are?
- Remember that the Passion of Ones is Resentment. It is directed both at themselves for failing to live up to their ideals, and at others for what Ones see as their laziness and irresponsibility. Watch for this tendency in yourself today.
- Understanding others’ personality type allows you to appreciate their good qualities and resist judging their faults.
- Try this Affirmation today: “I now affirm that I treat others with tenderness and respect.”
Choose Light-hearted, Easy Relationships.
- Remember that, as reformers and crusaders, average Ones know precisely where they stand on every issue, and they argue for their positions with the zeal of a missionary. Watch for this tendency in yourself today.
- What would it be like to have easy relationships today? What new attitude can you bring to your situation that will lighten your interactions with others?
- Everyone has positive qualities that they usually do not recognize in themselves. Today, can you express your passion without losing your clarity and balance?
- What would it be like to let go of nitpicking and express your higher qualities of reasonableness and open-mindedness today?
- Remember, when you are Present you interact with life without trying to prove anything or push any agenda. Be aware of this today.
MOVING TOWARD TYPE SEVEN
Let Others See Your Inner Disney Princess.
- Each type tends to “train” others to see them in certain ways. How have you boxed yourself in by training others to see you as a reasonable, objective person? What can you do today to reveal a new dimension of yourself to others?
- Today, see if you can do the opposite of your ordinary personality pattern. Suspend all judgment of yourself and see what happens.
- Average Ones can “act out” the average behavior of Type Seven with those they are secure with (the security point). They can become rowdy, vivacious, and scattered like Sevens. Notice if this happens today.
Set Yourself Free to Exhibit Playfulness.
- Average Ones want their sense of order to rule everything. Their strict superego is pitted against their feelings and desires, revealing the dualistic nature of their psyches. Watch for this tendency in yourself today.
- The Direction of Growth for Ones is Seven. Ones tend to exercise too much control over their feelings and impulses. The essence of the move to Seven is that healthy Ones relax and learn to take delight in life. How can you delight in life today?
- Remember, you will grow by moving toward those things that are symbolized by Type Seven. How can you act on your natural curiosity and playfulness today?
Perfectionusm isn’t about doing something meticulously. It’s about fear….fearing of making a mistake, fear of letting people down or disappointing someone. Praying to overcome this dibilitating issue will certainly help. And yes, in many ways this is very dibitating. But I think you first need to ask yourself why you have these needs to not disappoint or make a mistake. Is there pressure from famy or outside sources? Were/are there people expecting too much from you? Before we can ever correct the problem we need to first identify what created the problem, because all the prayers in the world won’t help if we’re first not honest with ourselves. Good luck.
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I sure wish I had a problem with perfectionism. I’ve gotta say that I am on the opposite side of the scale and knowing my history with people who are perfectionists, I would have a load of fun teasing you and doing little things that got under your skin. I’m sorry, it’s just so fun to mess with a perfectionist. My sister is that way and I still love giving her the business. So thanks for letting me know, so when you mess up on a post somewhere, I can mess with you. Sincerly, Your unperfectionist friend Bitter Ben.
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The only reason I would willingly accept your teasing is that I know it would be done affectionately! Your poor sister… 😉
It’s only people that I feel comfortable with that I tease mercilessly. So take that how you want to, Perfectionist!
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