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Christian Counseling - Seeking Nirvana Through Perfectionism

Nirvana is the painless state of perfect happiness. Some believe this can only be achieved in heaven. Others, like the Buddists, believe we can transcend the world, our physical bodies and emotional desires and enter that blessed state during our earthly lives. We all seek, to varying degrees, to be free from emotional and physical pain through a variety of healthy and unhealthy methods--love, shopping, power, sex, reading, counseling, drugs, fantasy, perfectionism, food, spiritual connection, etc.

Perfectionism is the belief that one can and should be without flaw, error and mistake and not fail at anything. It is paradoxical that Christians who seek to be perfect often admit no one can achieve a state of sinless living while on earth. Perfectionists require themselves and/or others to live up to an impossible standard of behavior. The consequences for being unsuccessful include: frustration, anger, guilt, feelings of failure, troubled relationships, anxiety, depression and poor self-esteem and self-image, to name a few.

We are to become Christlike, but how fast and how much is determined by each person's thoughts and desires because God doesn't provide these instructive details. When Scripture says we are to be perfect, it means only "complete," which refers to a lifelong pursuit of being sanctified. Ecclesiastes 7:16 says, Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself?" Solomon, the wisest man ever, knew there are and should be limitations to seeking things, like wisdom and righteousness. The Bible also says Jesus came in order that we might have abundant life. That's "abundant" (in the Greek, advantaged or superior) life, not "perfect" life. Anyway, even if we could attain to being perfect so that we might approve of ourselves and protect ourselves from criticism and rejection, Jesus was perfect, but He was rejected, maligned, hated and killed.

Perfectionism is not a savior. It is a weighty albatross that grounds productivity and joy. The antidote to perfectionism is learning and accepting "good enough." The good enough is about reasonable and realistic adequacy and not about doing just enough to get by.

What has helped you in your recovery from perfectionism?

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