Confronting the Chains of Perfectionism – Part 4

Perfectionism's Toxic Root System

If you are recognizing the threads of perfectionism that rob you of freedom, then we need to understand the root system that keeps this bondage intact. We often fall into bondage and don’t know why or how we even got there. Knowledge can leads us to revelation, which helps bring an unveiling to the battle that is going on.

To understand perfectionistic bondage, we have to come to an awareness of some key root systems:

Lack of Love, Nurture, Identity and Acceptance

This is the key root system. Perfectionists lack a sense of love and acceptance for themselves. They carry a void of true love–the kind of love that accepts us, even in our flaws and failures. Because of this, they also do not understand the power of nurture, so they don’t know how to deal with or recover from failure. They obsess over failure and mistakes; doing everything they can to keep from every failing again.

When we are not loved properly, our identity and security is based on our performance, so the pressure mounts on us daily to make sure we hit the mark. Breaking the power of perfectionistic bondage involves addressing this emptiness inside where love needs to come and do a perfect work–yet this perfect work involves experiencing the presence of love and acceptance.

Addictions Drive Perfectionism

Addictions also become a part of a perfectionist’s life, because inevitably the inward pressure needs an outlet. Perfectionism becomes an addiction itself, yet there also become other “addict” patterns that follow along. The stress of trying to do everything right, to please everyone and make sure all the ducks are in order creates a inward combustion that needs a release valve–a fix to calm the pressure.

Whether it be overeating, sugar, drugs, pornography–the pressure within is crying out for a release of pleasure to numb over the pain they have of never feeling good enough. This is the bondage that many in high rankings of leadership fall into–the pressure of the demands they give into along with an empty heart make for an open door of addictions.

Struggle with Relationships

Perfectionists do not understand what it means to be in real and healthy relationships that are forgiving, gracious and patient. They are hard on others and even harder on themselves. Perfectionists become more comfortable with rules rather than relationships. Give me the rules. Give me the ten steps. Relating to others usually involves a mental checklist of rules and guidelines for everyone around them to follow. Entering into authentic and vulnerable relationship is too hard and uncomfortable, so living life strictly around rules and standards makes it easy to have a sense of “control.”

For perfectionistic Christians, their basis in reading the Bible or relating to God is in making sure they follow a set of rules, more than walking in love. Understanding grace is too challenging to embrace, because it exposes their broken heart, so they are left with a tireless life that lacks true peace. In relating to God and He does not answer or respond in a way they expected him to, perfectionists internally combust and become angry towards what they perceive God is not doing.

Extreme Swings in Relationships

Perfectionists struggle with extremes in relationships. Because they lack nurture and they lack a sense of identity, they always swing into extremes. In relating to other people, they either invest themselves so deeply and get burned out with their obsessive pouring into the relationship, or they shut down and cut off a relationship. They lack the heathy balance.

So this patterns often drives people to say “I’m done with people” rather than working through the issues in relationships. People do not feel safe around perfectionists–their every action and word is examined and they feel like they are going to be crushed the moment they make a mistake.

The reality is that a perfectionist has self-hatred battles, but the perfectionism and performance lifestyle becomes a fabricated cover. We become trained that if we live and do things perfect, then people cannot see our vulnerabilities and therefore cannot hurt us. If we don’t show flaws, then people can’t see or touch our pain.

Lack of Identity

Lack of love means they lack an identity. When you are loved properly, your identity is not based on what you do, but simply on who you are. You realize you are accepted and you do not have anything to prove. You don’t have to earn acceptance, because you know you are accepted. Those who lack an identity operate in a stronghold of rejection, and they immerse themselves in what they do, because their identity is so deeply attached to what they do, and they obsess over how well they are doing. When we lack a sense of who we are, we are prime suspects for demonic influence.

A Driving Toxic Anger

Anger is a major battle in this area–outward anger and pent up anger. Perfectionists become easily angered at others, because they never fulfill your high standards. Often the main targets of perfectionists anger are the ones closest to the person: wife, husband, children, employees, etc. Perfectionists don’t becomes angry at the general public, because they are good at putting up a front for them. Yet those closest to them in private see the inward hostility and lack of contentment in their life.

Perfectionists are angry because they are very angry with themselves. In fact there is an accusation in their own heart where the enemy accuses them to themselves that they never fulfill the standard. They become easily condemned, because inside they know they do not fulfill the harsh standard they put on others around them. Yet the anger that blasts out attempts to point to the fact that other people don’t have the same standards.

Perfectionists may not say things that are harsh, but by simply being around them, you can feel the spiritual hostility they have because things are not perfect. Problem with them is that things never are perfect. Husbands walk in anger because his wife does not look or act perfect, which causes her to lose her security and sense of self-love. Wives whose husbands do not do things the way she would want him to become angered women.

In fact, deep down, there is an anger towards God, from a broken view of who He is. There is a breach in relationship with the Father, not on His end, but in viewpoint, especially coming out of how we have process through pain of the past. This broken hearted view towards God has allowed bitterness and anger to creep in towards Him. To get honest, the perfectionist is actually angered with God in hard times or times of loss. “Why me?” “You left me down. You left me hanging.” “I have been faithful to You. I have served You.”

Perfectionism and Job

This the mistake that Job made. When calamity struck, when the enemy was allowed to infiltrate his vulnerable points, especially his fear, he fell back on his self-righteous mindset to boast in how ‘good’ he was. He pointed back to himself . . . God I have served you. I have done this. I have done that.

So then, out of self-righteous pride, we defend our religious cover of what we deserve, completely forgetting the cross and what Christ has done for us. Out of this self-righteous mindset, we become victims and cultivate a victim world in our thinking and speech. A victim points back to how hard they work and how much they have given, with little return and little results.

Our Personal Expectation

Perfectionists are trained to put pressure upon what they think should happen – they have a pre-determined and pin-point idea of what the results should look like. They fail to release the results into God hands. They do not know how to enter into rest, because they have a false sense of wanting to control the outcome.

Even those these results are often unreasonable and unrealistic, they place them there anyway. When things do not turn out the way they demand, they spiral in victimization and self-pity in the arguments of what they have done. And they get into a trap.

They feel separated from God, from themselves and from other people. They are driven by guilt and performing for everyone. Then addictions come in. In that place where they have high standards that cannot ever be fulfilled, there is an emptiness in their heart. Their personal lack of nurture and identity is now craving a fix to fill the emptiness of their heart. The addictions may be anything from cocaine to ice cream; from pornography to romance novels; from checking out into entertainment avenues or simply spiraling in their obsessive thoughts.

It may just simply be an obsessive pattern of always looking to the next thing, the next idea or the next project. What is the next job, next business to open, the next project that needs to be worked on, the next room that needs to be cleaned, the next situation that needs to be fixed and then I will feel better. But they never feel any better. They live from continual addiction, obsession and compulsion without any sense of true peace.

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Mark DeJesus has served as an experienced communicator since the 1990s. As a teacher, author, transformational consultant and radio host, Mark is deeply passionate about awakening hearts and equipping people towards personal transformation. He is gifted in helping people address the core issues that become limitations to their God given identity and destiny. He is the author of numerous books and hundreds of teachings. Mark and his wife host a weekly online show called Transformed You and he writes at markdejesus.com. His articles have been featured on sites like CharismaMag.com and Patheos.com. Mark and his wife Melissa enjoy each other and their precious children Maximus and Abigail.

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