Carrie M. Wrigley taught an Education Week class on Thursday titled “Overcoming Perfectionism and Other Destructive Behaviors: How to Build a Healthy Lifestyle that Fosters Emotional Wellness” as part of her week-long series called “Christ-Centered Healing from Emotional Challenges.” Wrigley is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has a MSW in child and family intervention.
“Perfectionism causes pain, especially in a Church where we are constantly reminded to ‘be ye therefore perfect,’” Wrigley said. “If we’re not careful, those Church doctrines that are meant to be encouraging can be discouraging.”
Wrigley performed songs that she had written herself throughout her presentation to illustrate her points. The first of these, titled “Born to be a Butterfly,” discussed our potential for growth.
“We are always told that we are gods in embryo,” Wrigley said. “We know our divine heritage and our potential.”
Wrigley told the audience that we grow into and out of our problems, but that we shouldn’t run faster than we have strength.
“We need to access what causes our anxieties in order to overcome them,” she said.
Wrigley suggested that examining the postivity (or negativity) of our thoughts can lead to a transformation of behavior.
“Behavior is an inevitable-by product of our thoughts,” Wrigley said. “We can learn to think better.”
Wrigley suggested going to the scriptures to find good thoughts to replace anxieties.
Wrigley explained the cycle of the 3 P’s that cause anxiety and depressive behavior – perfectionism, procrastination and paralysis. Wrigley encouraged the audience to do conquer this destructive cycle by tackling tasks in small doses and accepting responsibility.
“Growth always starts with a mess,” Wrigley said. “God is forming us every day.”
She reminded the audience of the long, messy process of constructing the Salt Lake City temple. To illustrate the point that there is always hope, Wrigley sang a song titled “Under Construction.” The lyrics were meant to remind the audience that just because we are not perfect yet doesn’t mean God can’t use us to serve others.
“Points of our most important development sometimes happen in our darkest times,” Wrigley said.
Wrigley quoted a passage from C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianty at the close of her remarks:
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
“Re-design your life,” Wrigley said. “Even the Creator of the Universe did things one day at a time. He can teach us how to redesign our lives.”