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Four Qualities Perfectionists Need to Develop

Learn what the Doctrine and Covenants can teach us about replacing harmful perfectionism with faith in the Savior.

picture quote: Focusing on the Savior can lead us toward gradual perfectionA rejection in the mail from your dream school. A big red letter “F” on the paper you stayed up all night to write. A failed relationship. When we fall short of our own expectations, many of us struggle with feelings of inadequacy or even failure.

Elder C. Max Caldwell, in an article from the Religious Studies Center, turns to the Doctrine and Covenants to discuss how we can find healing from the wounds that perfectionism can cause. He explains that the antidote for unrealistic expectations is a closer relationship with the Savior.

How can we know that we are accepted and loved by the Savior? According to Elder Caldwell, we can stop beating ourselves up when we

• have a contrite spirit,
• obey the Lord’s ordinances,
• have meek and edifying speech,
• reflect the Lord’s truths in our works and teachings.

These principles shouldn’t justify us when we knowingly disobey, and they shouldn’t frustrate us when we fail to perform every action perfectly. Elder Caldwell refers to the gifts of the Spirit listed in D&C 46 to show how the Lord feels about us:

[The Lord] did not say the gifts are for those who keep all the commandments all the time. No one does. But many do keep all the commandments most of the time. . . . Though they may sometimes fail or fall, they arise, repent if necessary, and continue striving to live righteous and acceptable lives.
So when life doesn’t work out the way we had hoped, we shouldn’t despair. Focusing on the Savior—rather than on our own imperfections—can lead us toward gradual perfection and a closer personal relationship with God that transcends any mortal failings.

Read Elder Caldwell’s article “Acceptance of the Lord.”

Source: Religious Studies Center
—Abby Pace, Mormon Insights

Find more insights

Watch or read about the difference between perfection and perfectionism in Elder Russell M. Nelson’s talk.
Watch how God can nurture us to overcome failure in this Mormon Message.

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  1. Perfectionism can be truly petrifying, and can make life so difficult! I love the advice given in this article.

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