Most people of faith are acutely aware that they are flawed in some way. They pray for guidance for their lives and try to become the best people they can be despite their human imperfections. 

However, some people choose to take this quest to the extreme. They become perfectionists, refusing to be satisfied with anything less than the ideal. This attitude, if left unchecked for very long, can have a high cost. 

Counteracts Rest

Jesus often encouraged those who encountered him to come to him for rest, laying their burdens down. Perfectionism doesn't leave a lot of space for downtime, though. This impossible standard keeps you working nonstop with the idea that if you take a break, you'll fall behind. Rest, however, is an essential part of spiritual life.

This habit is likely to be detrimental to your peace of mind. It is hard to slow down enough to pray or meditate if all you are thinking about is your gargantuan to-do list and what needs to happen next. Ironically, this excessive drive may be the very thing that exhausts you to the point of inactivity when you push yourself to the point that your body, mind, and spirit can no longer function without taking some time off. 

Clouds Judgment

Perfectionism tends to narrow focus so harshly that only the quickest way to the goal is considered. This type of tunnel vision can easily cloud your judgment. When perfection becomes the goal itself, it's easy to fail to leave room for imagination. You may even lose sight of why the work you are doing was important to you in the first place.

In Islam, the concept of itqan refers to completing tasks that please Allah with excellence. On the surface, this may seem to encourage perfectionism. However, there is a stark difference between high standards and selfish ambition. By taking the time to ensure that your intentions are pure before you begin, you can proceed with a clear vision of not only what you are trying to accomplish but also the means by which you will get there.

Prohibits Grace

Another way that perfectionism affects your judgment is by increasing the chances that you will view your performance or the actions of others more critically. Your expectations become unreasonable, and you may find it difficult to be satisfied with anything you accomplish. This lack of grace can be disheartening at best.

It is bad enough to judge yourself through the harsh lens of perfectionism, but it is even worse to do so to the people around you. While many religions encourage self-control and discipline, the central tenets of most major faiths generally warn against trying to govern the actions of others. If your perfectionism causes you to become judgmental or resentful of others who don't seem to be working as hard as you are, it can seriously impede your ability to extend grace to them.

Disrupts Community

Finally, an attitude of perfectionism can keep you from engaging fully and generously with your community. If all you're focused on is getting things done without fault, you may lose sight of the people you are working with. Ultimately, what matters most is the community you build together. It may be full of mistakes and meandering paths, but the authentic connections you forge along the way can make you all stronger in your shared faith.

While it may seem like a good idea in theory, holding yourself or others to standards you are unlikely to be able to achieve can actually be quite detrimental to your spiritual, mental, and social health. Instead, try to maintain reasonable expectations so that you do not suffer the consequences of perfectionism.

Category: Religion

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