Perfectionism: Personal Triggers

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

It’s funny, for years, 1 John 4:18 drove me nuts. I feared–ergo, I was not perfect. If I wasn’t perfect, I wasn’t accepted by Christ. I was being punished.


Driven by insecurity, my quest for perfection began in childhood. I wanted, always, to be like everyone else. However, as an artist and a writer, I never was.

Furthermore, I seemed a bit dense in social cues. If a friend overlooked me, it was obviously because they did not like me. I’d never say, “Hey, I’d like to go to the party, movie, skating rink…” Nope. Not me.

Even in flirting, I never figured it out.

Think CHAP for causes of perctionism

Since I was an obvious failure…I had to perfect myself.

Since I feared, I obviously wasn’t perfect.

Sheesh. You never fell for this merry-go-round thinking, did you?

This brings me to reason number four in developing our erroneous quest for perfectionism. And it is…

First a recap of causes for perfectionism:

  1. Painful Childhood experiences
  2. Heart issues
  3. Legalistic Authority figures
What from your past triggers your legalism?

4. Personal Triggers

I’ve not entirely figured out social clues, but a few things help me overcome my personal triggers.
I know people love me (how could they not?). I’ve also come to understand human shortcomings. In our earthly bodies, scars and fears and experiences have marred us. Thus, I make sure friends know I’m available. I reach out. I don’t take a one or two time nonavailability as a categorical rejection of me.
For, the need for acceptance is a personal trigger.
For someone else, it could be a desire for love, a quest to be holy, a misapplied ideal, ambition.
For you? Do you struggle with a personal trigger that sends you spiraling up the ladder of perfectionism?

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