Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Character Defects - Part 2.

Frustration is a good indicator that I have become mired in one of my character defects - perfectionism. I would feel intense frustration when anyone would say, "That's good enough, leave it alone." Leave it alone? It was so obviously not perfect, how could I just walk away and leave it like that? If I did manage to tear myself away, I'd still be there in mind and spirit, biting away at it, worrying and nibbling and chewing it over endlessly.

If I don't keep a tight rein upon this aspect of my personality, the damage it can do is pervasive. Nothing is ever done to my satisfaction, because nothing is done perfectly. (As my old sponsor used to say, "Welcome to real life, dear!")

I've had to delve deeply into my past, in my efforts to find the roots of this poisonous weed of perfectionism, and what I've discovered, is that I have a belief that if I can just do whatever it is perfectly, no-one will be able to criticise me. It's a preventative measure, in effect.

I was astounded to realise this. I had always thought that I just liked to do things "properly." Finding out that what truly drove me was not a desire to do things in the correct way, but fear of criticism if I failed, was mind-boggling at the time.

It was one of those revelations that jolted me like an earthquake, and when it finished, had shifted me off my foundations by about an inch or so. I felt unsure and unbalanced. I began to see my rationalising as a smokescreen, instead of an explanation.

Now, when I feel that familiar rising sense of frustration, I can stop and ask - what do I fear, and why? Fear tormented me, inspired my behavior, influenced my thinking and worldview, shortened my tolerance - fear was my driving force. Fear can still grab the wheel if I'm not paying close attention, and then the accelerator is rammed to the floor, the engine races, and we careen along at breakneck speed, fear and I. It's never a pleasant drive in the country with fear in the driver's seat.

I can be afraid, and choose to set my fear aside, and act as if I would were I not afraid. This means I stop, take stock, choose to detach as far as I am able, and ask my Higher Power to remove my fear. I can let "good enough" be just fine.

1 comment:

  1. I understand how paralyzing fear can be. It is my worst defect.