Latter-day Saint Life

When Seeking Perfection Becomes an Obsession: 2 Crucial Things to Keep You Sane


MR says: As Latter-day Saints, sometimes we can be a little too hard on ourselves because we expect perfection now. Here are a few things we need to remember when we get frustrated or impatient with ourselves.

Have you ever made yourself absolutely miserable—so miserable that you wanted to die? I have.

As a young man I had aspirations to become noble and good. I wanted to be a good latter-day saint and a good person. I was so serious about my goals that, when I was a freshman in college, I kept a chart on which I evaluated myself on 27 criteria every single day. Was I kind to my sister? Was I thrifty? Did I use my time well? Did I get to bed on time? Every day I gave myself a letter grade in each of those 27 areas. Oddly, when I did well, I gave myself a C. My chart was littered with C’s and unnumbered D’s and F’s. I had very high standards for myself and I wasn’t meeting them. . . .

Constantly evaluating ourselves against impossible standards is a guaranteed way to make ourselves miserable. And failure feeds hungrily on itself. Failure makes us more self-critical which makes us ultimately more discouraged and less productive. Maybe you’ve tried it and had the same results I had. Maybe you’re doing the same thing—or something like it—even now. . . .

Fortunately I was distracted from self-destruction by a full-time mission. I am thankful that the light of the gospel began to flood the dark corner where my mind was stuck. Little by little I have come to understand how my system of self-evaluation was making me crazy. I learned a couple of key truths:

Being imperfect is part of the plan. It is absolutely essential in order to test our mettle—in order to determine what we’re made of. Will we turn to hollow self-reassurance? Will we ignore the painful truth? Will we desperately work to make ourselves okay? Will we give up and surrender to our worst impulses?

Or will we throw ourselves on the merits, mercy and grace of Him who is mighty to save?

Lead image from Meridian Magazine.
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