Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I posted an empty blog just now because I decided NOT to publish a blog saying I was retiring from blogging here.

I didn't intend to retire from blogging entirely, just here at R.J.

I have had a hard time taking criticism from my readers.

It's something that I need to get over.

No matter what you write, if you're honest about what you're thinking about something, you're bound to offend someone.

I know that my blogs, at least lately, have upset some of my readers.  Perhaps because of my lack of education regarding a particular topic.  Perhaps because my bent is too political for their taste.

The fact is - I don't care much for politics and I write in the moment.  I don't usually go home and do research if something offends me, I just write about it so I can get over it and then I move on with my life. 

Perhaps this is also offensive to some - and this is NOT pointed directly at anyone who comments on my blog - I appreciate every comment - it means people are reading - this is really me just dealing with my emotional reactions.

See, I'm one of those people who simply doesn't do well with conflict - not even so much conflict as making people mad.

If someone is mad at me it eats away at me like nothing else until I've somehow remedied the situation.

My former boss knew this about me, and so if he wanted me to change my actions or do something different he would just "get mad at me".  It would make me insane.  He wouldn't tell me exactly what I'd done to upset him, he would just basically not like me anymore. 

So I would go nuts trying to figure it out and change things about my performance until he would start to be nice to me again, and then I would feel like I had succeeded.

This didn't last my entire career at this particular place of business.  My final two years of employment there I said "forget this" and did what I wanted when I wanted to and if he was mad at me then he was mad and it was no skin off my back. 

I feigned this and did it rather well - but it still ate at me that he was upset.

It's a hard thing for me to get over - people being mad at me.

The worst is when it's unexpected.  I go into a situation that I think is friendly, and someone yells at me.

If I expect it, I'm always armed and dangerous, verbally.  I can take on just about anyone if I'm prepared when it comes to argument, especially if I'm arguing with a rational human being.  When I don't expect it I just stand there stupidly and take it and then I walk out of the room and cry.

I get that this is my problem.

In my small group (all ladies), we just finished a study on the book The Search for Significance.  It's a great book and I absolutely recommend it to anyone who is interested in changing their life for the better and understanding Christianity in a deeper way. 

In the book it talks about these lies that Satan tells us.  One of them is about pleasing people.  I listen to that lie all the time.  I base my worth as a human being all too often on what other people think of me.  Satan has got a really good grip on that area of my life.  Even when I drive home or walk out telling myself that my value is based in Jesus, that I am worthy because he loves me and that particular person doesn't matter, and I AM doing the right things or following in His Steps the best that I possibly can at that moment - I still feel sick to my stomach.  I still have trouble sleeping.  The person who yelled at me can still make me cry.

All the lies Satan tells are based on one huge lie:  our value = our performance + what others people think of us.

I think that this lie is insanely pervasive all over creation. 

Check yourself if you think it doesn't apply to you in some way.

We recently had a meeting to work toward planning the church service that I attend and people made comments about things being shoddily put together - about there being an overall low quality to things that happen at the service on a weekly basis.

I took that SO personally and stewed about it and stewed about it.  Heck - I'm STILL stewing about it because I feel like someone saying that the product I help to put out is less than quality has something to do with my personal value.

This is a really tough nut to crack.  My value has absolutely and always been based upon my performance. 

I realize it, but I'm having a hard time getting over it or even sometimes believing that it isn't true.

When someone says that something I did changed their life or my writing is good or the show I directed hit them in some way emotionally - that makes me feel like the best person in the world.  But the opposite is also true.  When someone criticizes even the smallest directorial choice - it stabs me like many knives - straight through the heart.

There are some who have got this thing under control.  I am not one of those people and I admit it.  If you want to get to me - tell me that something I've done is less than perfect.

My perfectionism is a thing I used to pride myself in.  I was taught this value by parents and teachers.  I was not taught that there is a difference between perfectionism and striving for excellence.  I'm still not sure how to reconcile these, to be honest.  I judge those who do not strive for excellence perhaps more strongly than anyone else.  I look at them and I see someone who is a failure and will always remain so.  I don't even want to associate with them because they are happy with mediocrity.  That is an enormous sin in my part.  I MUST get over this thing or I will definitely not be able to live a very productive life. 

So, in light of all of this - does anyone have any ideas - what is the difference between striving for excellence and perfectionism?  How does one tell the differences in herself?  And how do you move away from one and toward the other without driving yourself insane?


jnorton1205 said...

For me anyway, the difference between perfectionism and striving for excellence is how we handle not meeting the mark.

When a perfectionist misses the mark, he feels like he has completely failed. In contrast, when someone who "merely" strives for excellence reaches something less than that, she is able to see the the successes that did occur and use the failures to improve herself in the future.

It's not a question of different goals, both the perfectionist and the "strive for excellence"ist are trying to achieve the same thing, rather the question is how we understand the meaning of failure. For the perfectionist success is a binary condition, either you succeed or you fail and there is no middle. In reality though, many times when we think we have failed nobody else even knows anything was less than perfect. By allowing for less than perfection we can see that the .1% failure we want to beat ourselves up for is surrounded by 99.9% success which we can and should celebrate.

For what it's worth... turn off comments and keep writing :-)

Pete Ramsey said...

Re: empty
I agree with Norton that it might help to turn off comments and keep writing. I really like your work here: several times it's made me stop and think about how I might strive to be a more excellent male toward the not-so-male around me. Not that I'll be mad at you if you drop this blog...this is your life and your thoughts and far be it from me to tell you you're doing it right or wrong. I just want to say I've been blessed by your willingness to be vulnerable by sharing your thoughts.

Dawna said...

The difference for me between excellence and perfection is in how you get there. Excellence is doing/offering the best you have in the moment and letting God take care of the rest. The voice in your head is encouraging, supportive and peaceful. Perfection is trying to force something into a state that is not possible (perfection) and then stressing over the pieces you can’t control anyway. The voice in your head is demanding, criticizing and belittling.
The difference is in the way you feel in the moment, the peace that you walk in the grace that you give yourself and others. For me, it is a day by day reconditioning of the way I talk to myself. I stop when I hear the voice say “You’re lazy” and throw up a big stop sign in my head and say “You are the hardest worker I know, you’re not lazy, you’re efficient. It started for me in realizing that I will never be perfect. I had to start accepting everything about me – my strengths and my weaknesses (opportunities for growth). I could then move on to accepting others. (I’m not totally there yet)
I was raised by a perfectionist and nothing was ever right. I (the voice) used to belittle myself constantly for not being superhuman, all knowing and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. There is a part of me that knows I am strong, caring, giving person that has many talents and abilities to offer, but if you don’t like me then the voice can paralyze me into a fetal position, thumb sucking, cry baby that can’t do anything right. (It’s not a gift I recommend passing on to your children).
I am never happy when I am in perfectionist mode. It’s never good enough. “I should have, I know better, it could be better, if only I had….” run rampant through my mind.
I would ask a couple of questions –
Where does your voice come from? When did it start? What kind of things does it say to you on a daily/hourly basis? When does it flare up the most? What the worst think that could happen if “they” don’t like you/agree with you?
What does God’s word say about you? What does your spirit say to you? Which is more important to you what God thinks or someone else?
Can you learn (baby steps every day) to love yourself as you are…worts and all? Harder yet, can you accept others as they are without making them rise to your standard?
So maybe you’ve been walking around in your head with a knife in your hand (perfectionism), slicing at everything – “If only I had, it should have gone this way, if I had…it would have been better” thoughts cutting down your worth and the value of those around you.
Suddenly you realize that for all these years you’ve been thinking/living in a way that is actually hurting, you, your marriage, your children, your friends and your grandchildren. The first step would be to put down the knife. Look closely at the voice, where it comes from and how often you are listening to it. Once you hear it, REALLY hear it for what it is, you’ll wonder why you spent so many years blindly listening to it. Then ask yourself “How did God create me? What incredible talents and gifts did he bestow on me that I haven’t seen/appreciated for so many years? What standard of Excellence has God called me to walk? Once you learn to appreciate and accept the incredible, talented, valuable, worthy, creative, loving, genius that you are and you won’t care what others think. I can see her – can you?

Missy said...

Love you guys. Thanks so much for reading :-)

Jason said...

Jon's absolutely right.

Comments might as well read "Conflict" in blog software.

Strive for excellence, perfectionism is us trying to be our own god.

Turn off the conflict, keep writing, your blog is great!

And although we don't aways agree, I've never been angry with you over a post.

Missy said...

Love you, Jason. And all you guys (and Dawna!) Thanks so much!

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