30 Days to Less Guilt

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

The flip side of perfectionism is guilt.
I have a quarter. On the front is a picture of George Washington, and on the back, a buffalo. I cannot keep my quarter if I throw out the buffalo just as I can’t ditch ol’ George and admire the big beast. To be cliche: they’re two sides of the same coin.

So, too, are guilt and perfectionism.

Guilt is a product of the law. We feel guilty because we’ve done something wrong. The law tells us we’ve done a no-no. So when we strive with perfectionism, guilt is going to stick around. (click to tweet).

And how do most of us attack perfectionism?

  1. trying harder
  2. not trying at all
  3. rebelling
Beyond that, we haven’t got a clue.
But there is help.
According to research, we develop neural pathways from habits of thinking. Our brains wire themselves to using these patterns when assessing a situation. Thus, if you’re anxious, your first line of thought would be that everything will go wrong because you’ve trained your brain to think this way.
How about if you feel guilty? You enumerate over and over how overcome your guilt or how to make amends or…whatever your go-to whipping post is.
Same, too, with perfectionism–which by the way has no positive synonym. For me, I try harder, but then I see my failure, so I work harder. When everything falls apart, I quit.
And I know how to rebel.
But mostly, I work harder.
However, I’ve, too a large degree, overcome this striving for perfection after reading a Washington Post article on transforming neural pathways.
  1. Every night use a journal and list three good things about yourself. Maybe a friend said your hair looked good. Write it down. Don’t argue with her. Don’t give excuses about why she said it. Just believe it. Do you make a good cup of coffee? Write it down. Are you helpful? Did you compliment someone? Exercise? Write down.
  2. Every morning review your good things. Do not question them. Do not compare yourself. Yes, few of us are the best in the world, but all of us have good attributes: physical, mental, emotional, artistic, practical. We’ve got them.
  3. Do this for thirty days. It takes about three weeks to create a habit. For some, it’s less, for some more. During this exercise, you’ll find yourself asking, “What am I doing well?” or “What will I write tonight?” In that process, you’ll be transforming your mind.
Transformation is an active state, not a static. We never arrive, but we must work on it.
Believe me, if it worked for me, it can work for you.
Do you struggle with being a perfectionist? What are your pitfalls?
Have you overcome? Can you share them, so others can transform and renew their minds.

No Comments

  1. Great post! Do you mind if I share a bit of it on FB, with proper credit, of course : )

  2. Do so, Sherry. It helped me a lot. You will find yourself thinking during the day–"what good thing can I say about myself?" You'll review what you've already said, and be on the lookout for other good things you do. You don't have to be perfect–(says one perfectionist to another).

  3. Sherry says:

    I need this, Carol, every day! I am a perfectionist's perfectionist. I try harder until I'm exhausted and then I beat myself up for failing. I'm definitely taking this 30-day challenge.

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