Kathy, in the realm of performance issues, in which area do you struggle the most: perfectionism, people pleasing, or both?
Where do performance issues play out most in your life: family, friendships, career, or in your relationship with God?
It can be to some degree in all those areas but career comes to mind right now because I’m being challenged with a writing project where I feel inadequate. Therefore, my perfectionism rears its ugly head with “all or nothing” thinking. “I don’t want to do it at all because I feel like I’ll fail if I try a little. It feels too overwhelming so I’ll just divert my attention to something I feel adequate in and can handle.” When I recognize that, I ask for God’s strength to tackle even one tiny aspect of the project even if it turns out its unuseable. It doesn’t have to be perfect from the start, just do something! And I did! Praise the Lord!
In my book, I call this “The One Percent Principle.” To counteract “all or nothing” thinking, in the form of requiring 100% performance, I encourage women to make a One Percent choice—something small that will start the ball rolling. And those “One Percents” add up!
Where do you think your performance issues started?
There were many influencing experiences but one that was core for me was lying in front of my classmates in 3rd grade in order to keep my teacher’s favor. I was “Teachers Pet” and I loved her approval and attention. I did something wrong and my fellow students knew about it and called Mrs. Leighton over to tell her about it. She asked me whether I did it and I told her I didn’t. Knowing I had lied and feeling ashamed, I made an unconscious vow to always appear perfect so that no one would know the truth about me: I’m actually a liar.
Of course, many other experiences contributed to layers of needing to perform in order to feel safe, loved and valued.
In the realm of expectations, how have you learned the art of disappointing people?
God has shown me over and over again that I am not responsible for the behavior or the expectations of others. I should only seek to please my Father who has realistic expectations of me. I’ll never be able to please everyone; I’m going to disappoint people. Their disappointment doesn’t say anything about my worth and value and lovability because that is determined by God’s unconditional love and value of me. Of course, I still sometimes take on other people’s disappointment but I’m learning more and more, One Percent at a time, that God wants me to keep my eyes on Him.
What is one verse you feel every performer could benefit from internalizing?
Philippians 1:6 is one of my favorite: “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. “ NASB
We performers and perfectionists would have written it, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it yesterday!” Thank the Lord that He knows we’ll never become perfect until we’re in heaven. But of course, He does want us to be growing in our sanctification.
Tell us a little bit about the book you are giving away?
Why Do I Put So Much Pressure on Myself and Others: Confessions of a Recovery Perfectionist gives biblical, practical ideas for dealing with perfectionism and performance issues. I also use stories of others which encourage and inspire the reader to know they can be transformed through God’s power.
Leave a comment and we’ll be drawing a name tomorrow to win a free copy of Kathy’s book !