Sunday, May 03, 2009

Perfectionism?

I was blessed to be in a group with a sage old timer when I was new in sobriety.  He got sober in 1957 (or thereabouts) so was sober about 30 years when I got sober.  He had a twinkle in his blue eyes, and smoked a pipe, and could cut you to the quick before you even knew what happened... in the nicest possible way, of course.

He used to say that we (alcoholics) call ourselves perfectionists, which is pretty funny because we seldom do anything right, let alone perfect.  I thought about that.  I would hop on board those things when I was new... say I was a "people-pleaser" or a "perfectionist" when I really hadn't given much thought to how few people I ever pleased or how little I got perfect.  

Tonight I was talking with someone who suggested that I am a perfectionist.  Oh, but I beg to differ!  I like to do things well.  I don't see any reason not to.  If you are going to spend time doing something, why not do it well?  I take pride in my work and my hobbies.  When I knit, I don't spend hundreds of dollars to create something that no one wants to look at!  I want it to be a thing of beauty!  When I do my job, I want to do it well, and I make every effort to do so.  

When I was drinking, I seldom finished anything.  If I did, it was a sloppy job and I would sum it up by saying it was "good enough."  I think it is incumbent upon us as sober people to change our ways and give things our very best effort.  

God must have spared me from an alcoholic death for some good purpose!  I might as well not screw up what he saved me for.   (He didn't communicate to me what exactly it was, so I try to do everything that is put in my path to the best of my ability.)

And since it is bedtime, I think I will I thank Him for another blessed day of sobriety... and tomorrow morning I will ask Him for another one.  It's a good thing.  Gratitude is an action...

10 comments:

Steve E. said...

Terrific blog, Mary. thanks for the thoughts on "perfectionism" (It almost sounds like a disease--maybe it IS?)

Can't imagine who in the world would call you a perfectionist. Holy crap!

However, today I'll join you in staying perfectly sober. OK?

Ed G. said...

You point to a balance that I struggle with. I don't put much stock in the label you point to (e.g. perfectionist) but there is a difference between "doing something to the best of my ability" and getting stuck because I can't do the job I'd like to do on something.

As a friend of mine says, "I'll know more about what was the right course when they pull the grass over my body."

'till then, I'm just grateful for the grace to get started on what's next. ...and, the direction of what's next...

Scott W said...

Seems to me perfectionism would end in the perfectionist thinking they didn't do the job perfectly. It would be something they would constantly berate themselves for because they could never reach that perfection.

If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well. That is something my father said often. If you take the time to do something well, generally you won't have to redo it later. Plus you get the satisfaction of giving it your best.

I guess I could go on and on about this, but it already seems like I am rambling.

Findon said...

I like what you said about perfectionism. I had problems with this in my recovery. I work hard at all I do and try to make things as best they can be. Is that perfectionism. Maybe. What I did realise is that no matter how hard I tried to get something perfect, there would always be room for improvement, because when ever I got near to my ideal ( expectations) that ideal had moved on. The outcome was in Gods hands, the work in mine. Working for perfection makes me better and more humble. There is nothing wrong with doing something well or being good at something.

dAAve said...

You said all of that perfectly. Well, as best you could.
I'm pleased.

Trailboss said...

It's a very good thing Mary. Have a great Monday.

Banana Girl said...

I so needed to read and hear your words this morning. Thank you. I love that part about not screwing up what God puts in my way. Reminds me to put it over..again, thanks.

Patty said...

Thanks Mary. Having to be "perfect" all the time kept me from doing anything, ever. Then when I did it half way I could beat myself up and feel sorry for myself,"I'm such a looser." etc. What a great freedom to allow myself(and others) to be human!

♥Shann♥ said...

yea lol I love that, I do call myself a perfectionist.. lol and I seldom do anything perfectly. How ever, I am soooo hard on myself when I am NOT perfect, when my humaness comes out, when I am not doing, or being, what I think I should be in the face of bad circumstances lol. I react badly still sometimes, but today I try to NOT beat myself up, and just try to learn from the expirence and do it better next time... so maybe yea, perfectionism is a bad word for it.

ALSO I am with you on the things I do, I try to do well, because half ass just isnt right... right? lol
wow you sparked lots of thought from me this morning thanks MC

Happy Monday

Syd said...

I like the idea of balance as I used to be so obsessed over doing everything "right" whatever that means. Now I just do what I can do. I can't be perfect but as you say, I can do the best that I'm capable of doing. That's a better fit for me.