“5: What’s the difference between perfectionism and wanting to be worthy?” Mental Health: Help for Me (2019)
“The Difference between Perfectionism and Being Worthy,” Mental Health: Help for Me
The desire to be worthy often comes from our love of God and a sense of His love for us. It leads us down the path of obedience, covenants, and repentance. It is a desire to become perfect as the Savior invited us to do (see Matthew 5:48). It means striving to be humble and to “deny [ourselves] of all ungodliness” so that we can be perfected in Jesus Christ by His grace (Moroni 10:32).
Perfectionism, on the other hand, is often born of fear rather than love—fear of shame, fear of failure, fear of punishment, fear of disapproval or disappointment. One way this manifests itself is when we look “beyond the mark” (Jacob 4:14) by setting expectations for ourselves beyond what the Lord has set and tormenting ourselves unnecessarily when we don’t meet them. It can lead to anxiety and emotional instability.
Elder Cecil O. Samuelson explained the difference between worthiness and perfection: “Worthiness and perfection don’t mean the same thing! … We can be worthy while still needing improvement. … Those suffering from perfectionism … suffer from exaggerating their minor mistakes, weaknesses, or shortcomings to the point that they may become dysfunctional. … We need to recognize [our weaknesses], but we do not glory in them or magnify them” (“What Does It Mean to Be Perfect?” New Era, Jan. 2006, 10, 12).
Bethany was abused, struggled with anorexia, and had an intense fear of not being good enough, but she learned that she was enough because she belonged to Heavenly Father.